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World’s first publicly accessible art storage facility opens

The Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam has opened its doors to the public with more than 151,000 works.

Ossip van Duivenbode
Ossip van Duivenbode

Designed by MVRDV, the depot is a new type of art experience where visitors can take guided tours through the storage spaces or visit the rooftop forest and restaurant Renilde, both at a height of 35 metres.

The opening marks the conclusion of almost a decade of work: MVRDV won the design competition in 2013, with construction starting in 2017.

The brief was to design a building that would be as inviting as possible. The MVRDV design team, led by architect and urban planner Winy Maas, opted for a round, sturdy, functional building that seems to disappear into its surroundings.

The building curves upwards with a 10m overhang to accommodate all of the storage spaces, restoration studios, catering facilities and film and presentation rooms. The building has five climate zones to accommodate the most delicate art, from prints and paintings to photography.    

The mirrored façade, consisting of 6,609sq m of glass divided into 1,664 panels, ensures that the building visually blends into its surroundings. The large entrance doors merge into the façade and only become visible during opening hours.

Inside, the atrium features criss-crossing staircases and windows into the storage spaces, with a view of the art from all sides. The depot also features a 35m high rooftop forest, which was awarded the prize for the best Dutch roof before it opened. The 75 birches, grasses and 20 pines placed on the roof help retain water, promote biodiversity and reduce heat stress in the city.

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