World's First Publicly Accessible Art Depot Is Opening in Rotterdam and Features a 'Rooftop Forest'

Courtesy MVRDV

Part of the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, established in 1849, the Depot will focus on the work of Dutch artists. Over the next few months over 151,000 items will be moved to their new home in the facility.

Rotterdam is known for its unique architecture found throughout the city. And now it will be home to yet another distinctive building. Local architecture firm MVRDV just completed the Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen in the city's Museumpark shaped like a bowl and covered in glass. 

The stunning result came after the team had to manage several restrictions. In an attempt to not disturb the earth beneath the complex, they had to build vertical, peaking at 131 feet high. And due to size restrictions, the solution was to compress the building a bit, so it was cantilevered with the roof being wider than the ground floor. Then, the 1,664 reflective glass panels visually increase the park's size around the Depot while the rooftop forest enhances the green space more. 

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"A literally and figuratively reflective environment is created," Winy Maas, head architect of the Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen and co-founder of MVRDV, told Departures. "You see Rotterdam reflected in it. By planting the roof with a forest, we get a larger park back on top." 


Courtesy MVRDV

Inside is equally as remarkable. 

"I think the building looks a bit like a classic prison. A functional building with a central void, surrounded by corridors and the rooms," said Maas. "It has the structure of an atrium with surrounding rooms. I personally find it impressive that you have the feeling that you can see all those spaces. When you walk in the atrium, you enter the world where the curators can free pieces from the collection to display them even more emphatically."


Courtesy MVRDV

What makes it even more of a stand-out structure is that it will be the first art storage facility open to the public, according to a Maas. The space will house the art collection of the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in storage and maintenance spaces that will be accessible to visitors starting in fall 2021. Artwork will also be on display throughout the building, including in the rooftop garden and restaurant, totaling over 151,000 pieces. 


Courtesy MVRDV

As much as it is beautiful, the MVRDV team wanted to make the space practical as well. 

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"I wanted to add something not only in a visual sense but also in a functional sense, with a café and terraces on top," said Maas. "This part of the park was mainly a dog walking area and bicycle shed, and an outdoor cultural fair that was there twice a year. It could be used better. It is not finished yet, but it is becoming a story. The building enters into relationships with its environment and users, which creates stories. For me, that is the definition of architecture."