Superlatives don’t always have refer to the size or impact of something. They often refer to something astonishing and out of the ordinary. A parking facility with a warm and pleasant atmosphere? That’s an exception rather than the rule, and a superlative in itself. The bicycle parking facility in the Dutch city of Utrecht embraces this status and quantifies it for us: 13,500 spaces is a world record for a bicycle garage.
It’s not surprising that this record has been achieved in one of the most important traffic hubs in a country with such an affinity for the two-wheeled form of transport. The implementation of the project, which lends a special touch to the newly designed area around the train station, is remarkable. The world’s largest bicycle parking facility under the station forecourt features a honeycomb steel roof with 49 integrated foil cushions. This creates a connection between the outdoors and this extraordinary underground world. Where underground parking otherwise mutates into an oppressive use of space in bare and bleak functional buildings, the Utrecht Model offers a perspective of unique architectural features and an inviting and friendly design.
On the ground floor of the parking facility, the public cycle lane runs right through the length of the building. Ramps branching off to the sides lead to parking spaces on the lower and upper levels. Three trumpet-like concrete supports bear the weight of the enormous canopy and penetrate through the multi-storey structure.
The building’s combination of concrete, steel and wood is in stark contrast to the cold impression of conventional parking facilities. “Cycling through the garage has become a unique experience,” say the architects at Ector Hoogstad Architecten. “It is not just another part of everyday life in the city, but almost an attraction in its own right.”
Light signals indicate free parking spaces. Other features include a bicycle workshop, bicycle rental and a floor manager on each floor. Excellent lighting guarantees safety and contributes to the atmosphere of a bright and welcoming complex. BEGA recessed ceiling luminaires with unshielded and directed light fulfil this crucial task, illuminating paths and walls for ample visual comfort and safety.
Client City of Utrecht (The Netherlands) Construction Management BBN adviseurs, Houten Architecture Ector Hoogstad Architecten, Rotterdam Landscape Architect Buro Sant En Co, The Hague Lighting design Arup, Amsterdam