To increase the quality of life in De Pijp neighborhood in Amsterdam and improve the attractiveness of the public domain, the Albert Cuyp underwater parking garage was built, the first of its kind under an Amsterdam canal. The parking garage reveals almost nothing at street level as it is completely concealed under an existing canal to blend into the urban landscape. Almost all parking places at street level in the immediate surroundings have been removed and relocated to the parking garage. The former parking areas have been redesigned to create more public space for new playgrounds, plants and squares.
The municipality of Amsterdam wants to improve the quality of life and accessibility of the city by creating more domains for pedestrians, cyclists, playing children and greenery. To achieve this the city has taken several measures to reduce the presence of cars in the city and to create car-free neighborhoods. One of these measures is the construction of the Albert Cuyp underwater parking garage for 600 cars spread out over two levels under the Boerenwetering canal, mainly intended for use by so-called permit holders. The parking garage also provides parking for 60 bicycles. The idea behind this is that permit holders use their bike to cycle to the garage to pick up their car. With almost all parking places on street level removed, the neighborhood has been transformed into an attractive area with more room for cyclist, pedestrians and greenery. Also the nuisance formerly caused by cars searching for a parking place is minimized and an almost car-free neighborhood is created.
Every effort has been made to ensure that the addition of an underground parking garage has minimal consequences for its surrounding environment. The idea behind the design is to blend the parking garage into the existing urban landscape. All installations are out of sight, and the ramps are integrated into the canal side roads. The motto is ‘simple and safe’ and the visibility of the entire structure is as unobtrusive as possible so that the quality of the public domain for pedestrians and cyclists is optimized. For example, the entrances and elevators are modest in size and as transparent as possible. The walls of the entrances are made of glass, allowing light to enter the parking garage and provide easy orientation for visitors.
The design of the parking garage is based on a flexible approach towards the evolution of mobility. For example a diminishing need for parking garages resulting from municipal policies that discourage car ownership. From this perspective the intermediate floor has been designed in such a way that it can be permanently removed. This removal allows the former parking garage to then be used for other purposes. A flexible design was client’s request during tender phase.
The city of Amsterdam aims to improve air quality and therefor invests heavily in electric car sharing. As the number of (shared) electric cars expands in coming years more charging stations will be needed. In the Albert Cuyp parking garage an increased number of electric cars has been taken into account by allowing additional charging points to be easily added.
The oval columns supporting the roof of the garage are all placed under the same angle. This gives passing by on foot or by car a lively and rhythmical visual effect. Each column is given a unique graphic coding allowing the parking system based on license plate recognition to identify which car is parked in which slot. This feature enhances the easy retrieval of a (shared) car.
This parking facility qualifies as a smart garage, because the parking system records which car is parked in which slot. The real intelligence here however lies in the fact that not one square foot of the city has been sacrificed to provide parking for 600 cars. A vast amount of public space has been given back to De Pijp’s residents and visitors. Residents can now enjoy sitting outside on summer days drinking coffee and chating with passing neighbors while children play in the streets in a greener and almost car-free neighborhood. For pedestrians, cyclists and children, De Pijp has been improved immeasurably offering them more spacious, greener and quieter streets. The Albert Cuyp underwater parking garage is an outstanding example of how a neighborhood can transform and create more public space for residents in a densely populated city with limited urban space. The underwater garage could be an exemplary prototype for other cities that have similar objectives as the city of Amsterdam.
Client: The Municipality of Amsterdam, District South Contractor: Max Bögl Nederland B.V.