Paul de Ruiter

Insulindeplein car park

A fully automated, sustainable parking facility

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Insulindeplein s2
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To alleviate the problem of parking in the Bergpolder neighbourhood of Rotterdam, the local authority commissioned Paul de Ruiter Architects to build an underground car park with a capacity for 140 cars beneath the Insulindeplein. Rather than conceive something along traditional lines, we designed what became the city’s first fully automated car park.


Intelligent parking

Above ground is a minimalist, glass-walled pavilion with two separate entrances/exits. Drivers drive into the pavilion and immediately onto a lift platform, which features a visual display unit that shows drivers when they have positioned their car correctly. The driver then leaves the facility, with sensors checking when it is safe for the automated steps to begin. The car descends in a lift, and a mechanical distributor slides it to an available parking space. To retrieve a car, its driver can either summon it via the internet or via a panel at the entrance. The original parking process then operates in reverse. This time, however, the car ascends facing outwards, so that the driver may step in and drive off without having to reverse.

Cost and energy efficiency

The advantages of combining full automation with underground parking are many: underground parking affords more space for the purpose; more of the surface area above ground can be dedicated to public use; there’s no need for human attendants/security guards, which reduces operational costs; energy consumption for lighting and ventilation is kept to a minimum, since no one enters the part of the facility below ground; and the cars are as safe from theft or vandalism as they could be, since no one can get to them once they are below ground. Furthermore, the high degree of visibility offered by the transparency of the structure above ground enhances the security of the facility.

The facility is a model of space- and energy-efficiency

Playful interaction with its surroundings

The glass walls of the street-level pavilion are printed with vertical silver strips that preclude the greenhouse effect and reflect the structure’s surroundings without compromising its transparency. As a result, the pavilion appears to interact with whatever is happening around it.

The design enhances the public space around the facility as well as its security

Project details


Location Rotterdam
Project description The design enhances the public space around the facility as well as its security
Start design August 2003
Start construction April 2006
Completion September 2010
Size 9,800 m³
Parking spaces 140


Client Municipality Rotterdam
Administrator Department of Urban Development, Rotterdam
Ontwerp Paul de Ruiter Architects
Project architect Paul de Ruiter
Project team Willeke Smit, Sander van Veen
Construction consultant Ingenieursbureau Gemeentewerken Rotterdam
Project manager Marlous Vriethoff
Building services engineering TS&A, Van Capellen Advies, Terberg
Urban planner dS+V
Contractor Ballast Nedam
Photography Pieter Kers

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