It’s the peak of summer in the city. On hot days the asphalt shimmers and heat radiates from the paving stones. A dip in the water will cool you down, but greenery also provides relief. At a complex location in the inner city, right next to Amsterdam’s Leidseplein, a clever design, an innovative building method and a unique collaboration have resulted in an outstanding underground bicycle parking facility with 2,000 places, and a transformation of the public space above. What used to be a messy paved square full of bicycles is now a delightful, and much greener, place to be.
Green square on roof of underground bicycle parking facility
Architectural studio ZJA, along with Ballast Nedam Park & Connect, was commissioned by the Municipality of Amsterdam to design and build the underground bicycle parking facility Leidseplein, and in collaboration with artist Hans van Houwelingen it came up with a truly exceptional plan. Above ground a spacious green square was created, designed by Ruwan Aluvihare of the Amsterdam Municipality.
Pleasant and climate-resilient space
This project is all about making more, pleasant and climate-proof public space for people in a crowded city, about meetings and connections, in space and time, in the design and its realization, both above and below ground. The user is central to the design. The tangle of parked bicycles on the Kleine-Gartmanplantsoen has made way for a lovely square with tree islands, which functions as a water buffer and makes a positive contribution to urban climate adaptation. Visitors can wander about here or enjoy the sun amid the bronze lizards under the trees, or on one of the café terraces.
Meeting and connection in space and time
The underground bicycle parking facility is spacious, pleasant and safe. Access by means of wide steps and a striking entrance with a granite and brick wall are part of an environment artwork called Blaauw Jan. The brickwork continues under the square, linking one entrance with the other, the street level with the underground world, and the Amsterdam School style with contemporary architecture.