As bike use increases, is there a spatial lesson to be found in the Netherlands’ cycling culture?
A new cycle parking garage in The Hague by Silo and Studio Marsman may be a helpful model for local and national governments who seek to promote the means of transportation.
Countries the world over are responding to the difficulties in public transportation that COVID-19 has introduced by investing in infrastructure for biking. In early March, New York City bike-sharing programme NYC Citi Bike saw a demand surge of 67 per cent. At the end of April it was announced that the French government would be putting forward a 20 million cash injection to keep people on saddles post-pandemic. The benefits of swapping four wheels for two are environmentally and socially manifold.
In the Netherlands, there are more bikes than people – cycling culture is one of the country’s defining characteristics. That’s because Dutch are uncontested leaders in this means of transportation: the proportion of bicycle use as a percentage of total number of trips tops that of even Denmark by over five per cent. The Netherlands Institute for Transport Policy Analysis reports that more than one-quarter of all trips made by Dutch residents are done so on bicycle, including for work and leisure. There are many incentives to ride in the Netherlands, among them being the spaces in which to house one’s mobile metal machine.
A parking garage designed by Silo in collaboration with Studio Marsman shows just how far innovation in that oft-neglected spatial typology can go. Seeking a future-proof, service-oriented space, the Municipality of The Hague and the national railway operators turned to the collaborators. Located underneath the Koningin Julianaplein in The Hague – just in front of the city’s central station – the garage is one of the biggest in Netherlands with over 8,000 spots for bicycles and rental bicycles. It may be a helpful model for local and national governments looking to boost people’s readiness for biking.
‘A good connection between bicycle and train is an essential link in the urban mobility network,’ says a spokesperson for Silo. ‘However, underground parking spaces are often unpleasant due to low ceilings, and the lack of daylight and views of the surroundings.’ Rene Toneman, Silo’s creative director, explains that in the new garage, ‘The integrated application of light and spatial identity makes the facility appear more spacious. Moreover, the visual interventions supports the intuitive orientation, making it easier to find back your bike at the end of the day.’
A light wall inspired by famed Dutch graphic artist M C Escher depicts the ‘past, present and future’ of architecture in The Hague, interpreting historic and forward-looking facades in the city. A bright white ceiling, intuitive wayfinding, roomy aisles and back-lit glass walls are defining elements. Exits designed by Powerhouse Company will be integrated into the above-ground buildings.
Read about more mobility projects here.