Arts & Entertainment

Dutch city’s mirror-clad Depot revolutionizes art storage

By Imane Rachidi

Rotterdam, Netherlands, Nov 2 (EFE).- An art depot is typically nothing more than a drab building used to store artwork not currently on public display at a museum.

But Rotterdam’s brand-new Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen, a facility that makes the nearby Museum Boijmans Van Bueningen’s entire collection of tens of thousands of objects available for viewing, is a marvel unto itself and an inviting place for visitors thanks to its innovative architecture and environmentally friendly design.

Designed by the MVRDV architectural firm and set to open on Saturday, the mirrored building in the shape of a water basin (or maybe Noah’s ark or a spaceship) is billed on its website as the “world’s first publicly accessible art storage facility.”

Efe had the chance Tuesday to tour the building’s six stories and rooftop terrace, the location of a restaurant – Renilde – that has seating for 120 people and figures to be one of the Netherlands’ most chic eateries both for its views and dining options.

King Willem-Alexander will inaugurate the Depot on Friday, and a day later it will be open to the public after four and a half years of construction.

Art storage facilities have long been rented spaces located outside the city or in a museum’s basement, but that latter option is no longer viable due to flooding, especially taking into account global warming and the building’s location in a country with a third of its territory below sea level.

The Depot is located next to Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, which has a collection of some 151,000 objects offering a comprehensive overview of Western art from the Middle Ages to the present day, including 63,000 paintings, photographs, films, industrial design and applied arts, contemporary art installations and sculptures, and 88,000 prints and drawings.

Unlike the museum itself, the works in the Depot are stored according to size and climate requirements rather than arranged by movement, period or artist.

An atrium occupies the building’s central space and features crisscrossing staircases that wind upward past a movie theater, restoration studios, two exhibition rooms and a score of storage compartments.

When MVRDV first proposed the architectural design, the plan was seen as attractive and ambitious. Now that the entirely mirror-clad, salad-bowl-shaped building has been completed, it is a source of pride for Rotterdam.

The open-air rooftop terrace is home to a garden with roughly 100 birch and pine trees that visitors will walk past on their way to the observation points, while the roof helps retain water and promotes biodiversity.

On the building’s facade, a total of 1,664 mirrored panels enable it to blend in with the popular Museumpark just outside – a hotspot for joggers and skateboarders.

The Depot’s innovation also is seen in its sustainability features, including a ground-coupled heat exchanger, rainwater storage that provides water for the roof garden and for flushing the toilets and solar panels to supply the building’s energy needs.

The idea for the Depot first arose in 2004 and the initial plans were drawn up in 2007, but another decade passed before the construction phase began.

For its part, the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen – a cultural institution that first opened in 1849 – has been in the process of renovation for the past two years and is scheduled to reopen in 2028. EFE


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