Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam

by MVRDV

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningens new art depot is unique in the world, in terms of both its function and design. The depot is built in the public Museumpark and therefore architect Winy Maas, MVRDV, wanted to compensate for the space the building would use. He has done this by making a spherical and reflective building, through which the park and the building can strengthen each other. Main contractor BAM asked Sorba for the development, production, and installation of the spherical mirror façade.

Facade Construction

Sorba started on the structural concrete base of the building. At first, anchors were installed in the concrete, the measurements had to be based on the 3D model because you cannot measure accurately on a spherical shape. After placing stainless steel consoles on the anchors, the façade was insulated. The lower sections had to be filled out with mineral wool to be able to follow the round shape of the building. After the insulation, the hooks are installed on which the glass panels will be installed. These consist of a plate with 4 adjustable hooks, that can be adjusted horizontally and vertically to perfectly align all the panels and junctures.

On the back of the glass panels, Sorba installed black aluminium frames. These frames are glued to the glass under specialized conditions. With this frame, the glass mirror panels are installed to the façade. “Because the city of Rotterdam requires a safety measure for glued panels, little black hands are installed. These keep the panel in place in case the glue wouldn’t hold on the panels.

Seamless curved door installation

The windows and doors of the Depot are unique as well. These follow the same spherical shape as the rest of the façade. The windows are fitted with special 3D curved insulated glass panels. In total there are 186 of these insulated glass panels. On the lower levels, the resistance of this glass is WK4, and on the higher levels, we used WK3 glass. Part of these window panels is transparent instead of reflective. The transition between the reflective and transparent parts is made gradual.

In the façade, there are a total of 8 doors: 3 double doors and 5 singular doors. These doors are made to disappear when closed. To make this possible the team developed, together with Walasco, special steel frames for these doors. The doors will be recessed into the façade when closed and open like bus doors, first outside and then to the sides. This way there are no visible hinges, so it seems like the façade is continuous.