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VenhoevenCS-led team creates IJboulevard – award-winning underwater bike parking and new public space in the heart of Amsterdam

Project name:
Bike Parking IJboulevard
Architecture firm:
VenhoevenCS architecture+urbanism
De Ruijterkade, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Ossip van Duivenbode
Principal architect:
Danny Esselman, Max Fleer
Design team:
Built area:
4,270 m²
Site area:
Design year:
Completion year:
Building physics: Buro Bouwfysica Street layout: Gemeente Amsterdam Wayfinding, pedestrian flow: Royal Haskoning DHV
DS Landschapsarchitecten
Civil engineer:
Structural engineer:
VolkerWessels Infra Competence Centre
Environmental & MEP:
Homij Technische Installaties
Van Hattum en Blankevoort
Tools used:
Van Hattum en Blankevoort - Gemeente Amsterdam
Public Space › Underwater Bike Parking

A) The underwater parking for over 4,000 bicycles is a ‘plug-in’ for Amsterdam Central Station, a multi-modal transport hub – making people’s journeys as simple and hassle free as possible.

B) It delivers new public space: bringing bicycles underground to free up space at street level whilst providing a new ‘living room’ for the city, a panoramic pedestrian boulevard on the river IJ.

C) The unique underwater design provides a habitat for aquatic life to feed and shelter.

A design team led by VenhoevenCS architecture+urbanism - with Van Hattum en Blankevoort and DS Landscape architects - has created IJboulevard, a new underwater bike parking facility in the heart of Amsterdam. Opening to the public on 22 February 2023, the innovative project makes a significant contribution to the city, transforming the area to create a unique experience for cyclists whilst providing new public space and improving the city’s infrastructure. Sited in a complex urban location next to Amsterdam Central Station - where trains, trams, buses, taxis, pedestrians and cyclists converge - and the river IJ, the underwater facility has space for over 4,000 bicycles.

Priority for bicycles and pedestrians

IJboulevard offers more public space for pedestrians around the busiest transportation hub in the city. The design includes 6,000 m2 of new public space above ground, created by storing bicycles underwater. The roof of the parking facility forms the new boulevard along the river IJ, creating a vibrant new walkway and gathering space for residents and visitors, with seating areas and views of the river IJ.

“IJboulevard builds on the VenhoevenCS tradition of turning functional infrastructural features into seductive spaces that contribute to urban culture.” - Danny Esselman, architect-director VenhoevenCS

Structural and visual connection

The interior of IJboulevard features a design characterised by flowing lines and detailed rounded shapes, creating a warm and inviting aesthetic. The use of wooden walls, subtle lighting, and a calm color palette aid in clarity and orientation. The entrances are finished with the same dark gray natural stone as the boulevard, providing a seamless transition between the interior and exterior spaces. The stairwells with large glass surfaces allow natural daylight in and provide a view of the parking facility from the pedestrian boulevard. The well-lit, column-free design, long sightlines and prominent position of the manager's office will contribute to a sense of safety for users.

Sustainable and nature inclusive

IJboulevard is a sustainable and eco-friendly design that integrates low-energy consumption, sustainable materials, and features that promote biodiversity. It also incorporates features that mimic natural habitats to promote biodiversity and support aquatic life. The design includes elements such as bio huts, wood, coconut mats, and porous concrete between the underwater pile supports to provide shelter and surfaces for aquatic plants to grow, with the aim of improving the overall health of the river.

IJboulevard was awarded the prestigious Schreuders Prize in 2022 - the prize for innovative underground construction projects - by the Centrum Ondergronds Bouwen (Center for Underground Construction).

By Liliana Alvarez

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