2,000 bicycles can be stored within the Dutch capital’s new Leidseplein garage, underneath one of the city’s busiest squares.

Key features

The dinginess and darkness often equated with parking garages is avoided entirely as a result of wide pathways, 3.20-m-high ceilings and a strategic lighting scheme. Bright white lighting above the footpaths and a generous allowance of natural light from two entrances – one for pedestrians and the other for cyclists – make for a safe, open space. The designers incorporated features from the outside in the concept – a masonry wall connecting both entries for example, is a continuation of a nearby Amsterdam School-style brick bridge. Monitoring incoming and outgoing cyclists are forty bronze lizards affixed to the garage’s roof, part of a public artwork by Hans van Houwelingen.

The project also returns public space to Amsterdam. ‘Before the Leidseplein underground bicycle parking garage was built, the Kleine-Gartmanplantsoen was full of bicycles,’ explains ZJA project architect Erik Smits. ‘Bicycles have now been brought underground and a new place to stay has been created on the square above for visitors to walk or enjoy the sun between the bronze lizards in the park or on one of the terraces. In this way, the square has become part of the city again.’ 

Frame’s take

Notorious hotbeds of criminal activity and collisions, parking lots – be they for automobiles or bicycles – desperately need the benefit of design (re)thinking. The Leidseplein garage follows previous bike lot openings in The Netherlands that show ways to improve the spatial typology greatly. And, as micro-mobility becomes more relevant to urban dwellers, there lies a huge opportunity to contribute to communities times two by uniting these spaces with public green areas as the teams have done here.