Entrance cabins to fully-automated garage create new space in the city

The fully automated Vijzelgracht parking garage in the centre of Amsterdam is the largest of its kind in the Netherlands. Underground, it is 5 stories high and 120m long and contains 270 parking places for local permit holders, of which 84 EV. The underground layering effectively adds valuable surface area to a city in need of more green public space for its inhabitants. In accordance with recent urban policies, these 270 spots will be removed from the streets above to create more space for pedestrians, cyclists, play areas and pocket parks.

Transparant theatres of technology
The only parts of the garage visible to the public are the three glass entrance cabins. Drivers leave their car here and the Lödige system takes care of the rest. Angie Abbink designed these Lifthouses in collaboration with the neighbourhood. Abbink has been closely involved in the overground design challenges and aesthetic detailing of the project from beginning to end. Abbink and ABT later joined forces for further engineering, detailing and design integration with the technology partners and builders.
The city of Amsterdam specifically sought to contract a designer-artist with experience in integrated (glass) art-chitecture and neighbourhood participation due to the sensitive intercity location. These entrance cabins are free-standing in the middle of the ‘Red Carpet’, which is a part of a new pedestrian-focused network of high quality public domain. The neighbourhood had many good reasons to prioritise the cabins being as transparent as possible. The subsequent challenge of all the required technology becoming highly visible to the public – which is not the norm in the world of parking systems – is met in an integrated aesthetic design. The result is a dynamic spectacle in these transparant theatres of technology for all to enjoy.

Tales of weaving looms and crooked houses
The art of omission is what makes the entrance cabins stand out in apparent simplicity and subtlety. State-of-the art technology, housed in a glass skin carried by a steel structure on a brick carpet. The cabins blend in with respect for the historical surroundings while taking on old stories with a modern twist. The steel construction, which is minimised and tapered to optimise transparency, is reminiscent of local steel bridges and inspired by weaving looms and houses that stand askew. The quirky roof shape and faceted plans are also formed by these two themes. In this way the entrance cabins make a reference to the adjoining Weavers houses (1670) and the more recent tumultuous history of collapse & protest thereof during the building of the underground (2008) below the new parking garage. Sustainability is thereby not only found in the future re-use of sustainable materials but also in timeless and deferential designs that incorporate tales of local heritage, repair and heroism.

Interacting with surroundings
The fragmented sheets of glass reflect the elegance and small scale of the surrounding architecture. The staggered glass follows the rhythm of the colourful brickwork in the pavement. The pavement itself continues through the entrance cabins, making tangible that the cars are but guests in a pedestrian zone. Historical architecture and promenading pedestrians are reflected in thin slivers of mirrored steel. The small scale building elements also make replacements easier if damaged. Two horizontal lines on the glass face the lasers that measure the height of the cars. Intitiated by Abbink, and to accompany these functional lines, the city’s poet, Marjolijn van Heemstra wrote three lyrical verses that invite passersby to pause and entice them to reflect. The graphic design by artist Roosje Klap incorporated a subtle iridescent foil that colour-shifts with sunlight or car lights when movement incurs between a bright light source and the spectator. The Lifthouses subtly interact with their surroundings in several ways. They are absolutely unique in their kind.

More information can be found at:
Gemeente Amsterdam
Building fase
De Ingenieur

Client: Gemeente Amsterdam”>Gemeente Amsterdam
Architect: Angie Abbink X Co
Steel construction design: Angie Abbink X Co + ABT
Structural engineering: ABT engineering consultants  
Building management: Max Bögl 
Parking system technology: Lödige Systems
Glass steel construction: Broeze Nijverdal    
Installations: Van Dorp     
Brickwork: Betsema  Bouwgroep / Marc Bohle                           
Paving: Varto Infra / WS products                                      
Overhead doors: Rolflex
Poetry: Marjolijn van Heemstra
Graphic design: Roosje Klap

Location: Vijzelgracht Amsterdam
Entrance cabins: (3x) 33m2
Status: completed 2023

Professional photography: ©IC4U / Hans Peter Föllmi
Other images: ©Abbink X Co, ©Riva Stuy, ©Bas Cornelissen