Depot Boijmans van Beuningen Rotterdam, Netherlands

Art: fully mirrored

The way that the Boijmans van Beuningen viewable storage area reflects its surroundings means that the building itself has an inconspicuous presence. While the Jansen VISS structural glazing fa ade made from the curved mirror panels may seem unassuming, it complies with RC4 burglar resistance. This is important given the priceless works of art stored inside the building.

With the viewable storage area at Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, architects from MVRDV have created a new type of building: a publicly accessible art storage facility in which all of the pieces can be viewed. The extensive collection, comprising more than 151,000 works from seven centuries, is not only stored and conserved here, but also exhibited. Given the different conservation requirements, the repository has several climate zones in different room sequences, which can be accessed from the central atrium. Its sophisticated interior cannot be seen from the outside – «de Pot» (the pot) as the Dutch have nicknamed it, is mirrored all around and from top to bottom. The Depot Boijmans van Beuningen was awarded the Dutch Glas Award 2021 for its unique design and has now also been named the Public Building of the Year 2021 by Architectenweb, the leading online platform for architects in the Netherlands. One of the reasons for this win is that the mirrored, convex shape surprisingly allows you to see the silhouette of Rotterdam at ground level.
Meter high Atrium
In the entrance areas, several automatic single and double casement swing doors have been seamlessly integrated into the façade structure.
The 1664 mirrors, which have been arranged in 26 rows of 64 mirrors that stretch all the way around the building were installed in a VISS SG façade with the requirement of RC4 burglar resistance. The installation of the double-curved – and in some places triple-curved – panels using specially measured anchors required extensive engineering by both the system provider Jansen and its Dutch partner ODS as well as by the fa ade constructor Intal Producties Zuid. The biggest challenge, however, was in the entrance areas, where several automatic doors with pivot sashes were to be seamlessly integrated into the fa ade structure. The façade construction specialist Sorba Projects developed these swing doors in cooperation with Intal Producties Zuid. As they also have a reflective coating, the mirror image seen by visitors splits in two as soon as they approach the doors. Once you pass through the relatively small entrance, you enter the atrium, which is almost 40 metres high. From here, the tour takes you via criss-crossing staircases, walkways and galleries, and past numerous repositories, exhibition rooms and glazed workshops to the roof garden overlooking the 6th floor. The interior windows and fixed glazing on every level ensures that there is no doubt as regards the function of the building – the archiving and restoration of valuable works of art. Even the lifts pass glass display cabinets in which constantly changing exhibits are presented. All of the glazed inner façades have been installed in the Jansen VISS RC3 system with a fire protection requirement of EI60 and equipped with heat-insulated Janisol C4 RC3 fire-proof doors . Lowiron glass was used in the glazing. Thanks to its distinctly more neutral colour, this special glass guarantees an unadulterated view of the exhibits.
In the atrium, which is almost 40 m high, criss-crossing stairs and galleries lead visitors past numerous storage areas, exhibition rooms and workshops.
On the roof terrace, visitors will find a sculpture garden surrounded by numerous trees that were planted to replace all of the trees that had to be removed during construction. The VISS façades on the roof structure, which house a restaurant among other things, comply with RC2 burglar resistance. From RC4 and RC3 to RC2: The advantage of the system solution with the Jansen VISS steel profile system is that different solutions can be implemented as one cohesive aspect, and additional requirements – in this instance, different classes of fire protection – can also be integrated invisibly.

The façade had become a selfie hotspot even before the opening of the exhibition depot. A striking effect is provided by the curved mirror on the fa ade distorting the reflection and making the Rotterdam skyline appear higher than it actually is. The 1664 mirrors are incidentally a kind of memorial wall, as they bear all of the names of the donors. Altogether, 35 private investors have provided 92 million euros to make the dream of a publicly accessible art repository a reality. The result is a building that is itself a work of art. (AMR)
Depot Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam/NL
MVRDV, Rotterdam/NL
Exterior façade and installation
Bespoke special solution with Jansen VISS SG RC4
througth Intal Producties Zuid B.V., NS Horst/NL
Double-curved swing doors on the outer façade
Development, manufacture, installation
Bespoke special design with Janisol C4
througth Sorba Projects B.V., Winterswijk/NL und Intal Producties Zuid B.V., NS Horst/NL
Roof structures and installation
Standard solution with Jansen VISS RC2
througth ZNR Zuid Nederlandse Ramenfabriek B.V., Rucphen/NL
Interior façades and installation
Bespoke special solution with VISS RC3 EI60 ZNR Zuid Nederlandse Ramenfabriek B.V., Rucphen/NL
Fire doors and metalworker
Bespoke special design with Janisol C4 RC3 EI60
througth Aalbers Wico, AC Renswoude/NL
Extra-high sliding doors and metallworker
380 cm high standard solution Economy 60 EW60
througth Hoefnagels Fire Safety, Tilburg/NL
Fire-proof revolving doors and metalworker
Standard solution with Economy 60 EW60
durch ZNR Zuid Nederlandse Ramenfabriek B.V., Rucphen/NL
©  Ossip van Duivenbode / © Tim Fisher Photography