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Underwater garage scoops prize

Jez Abbott
Tuesday 15 Jan 2019

The first ever garage built under a canal in Amsterdam has won a design award.

Albert Cuyp parking garage scooped the European Standard Parking Award (ESPA) Gold Award for its design, which accommodates hundreds of cars.

Designed by ZJA Zwarts & Jansma Architects, the garage is unique in being the first parking garage built under an Amsterdam canal. The designers took this approach to maximise use of limited space in the neighbourhood.

The award is a recognition for parking garages that excel in design, quality and customer service and is awarded by Vexpan, the platform for parking in the Netherlands. The Albert Cuyp parking garage is the 13th parking garage in the Netherlands to win an ESPA Gold Award. 

ZJA designed the underground parking garage for 600 cars and 60 bicycles under the water of the Boerenwetering canal. Max Bögl Netherlands is responsible for the construction of the Albert Cuyp parking garage, commissioned by the Municipality of Amsterdam.

With a large number of parking places disappearing at street level, more space becomes available for pedestrians, cyclists and planting. The idea behind the design is to blend the garage into the existing urban landscape. All elements are installed out of sight while ramps are integrated into the existing quays without any conspicuous elevations. 

The motto is: 'simple and safe, visually unobtrusive' to keep the quality of the public space for pedestrians and cyclists optimal. Entrances and elevators are therefore modest in size. Walls are made of glass, allowing daylight into the garage and allowing visitors to easily orient themselves.

Because the parking system remembers which license plate is parked in which slot, it qualifies as a smart garage. However, the real intelligence is that not a square foot of city has been sacrificed to house 600 cars so residents and visitors can enjoy more spacious, greener and quieter streets.

The new Albert Cuyp parking garage could be an example for other cities that have a limited space above ground, according its designers. Furthermore, underwater construction in cities can be used for multiple applications.

In the past ZJA, together with Strukton, designed a plan for a possible urban expansion under the canals of Amsterdam; AMFORA. In addition to underground parking spaces, the concept also offers spaces for sports facilities, shops, cinemas and other recreational areas. In this way, the urban space under the city of Amsterdam is better utilized.

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