top of page

Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen


Architects: MVRDV // Project size: 14.000 m² GFA // Completion: 2020 // Awards: Glass Award 2021, Best Building of the Year 2022 (BNA) - Stimulating Environment, ARC21 Award 2021 - Architecture, Dutch Design Award 2022 - Habitat

Buildings want to attract our attention - among other things, through their form, their construction, their materials and also through their façade. Various disciplines are reflected in façades: engineering, building physics, structural design, maintenance concepts and also cost management. Outstanding façades strike a balance between these disciplines and offer the act of balancing on a tightrope, as the example of the spherically curved mirror facade of the Boijmans van Beuningen Gallery in Rotterdam proves.


The opening of the Depot Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam in 2021 was a world premiere - for the first time, a museum's entire art collection will be presented to the public under one roof in one place. Since the end of 2021, art and architecture lovers can visit the building and its enormous collection of 151.000 objects. With a height of 40 m and a diameter of 60 m, clad in 1.664 glass panels, the structure is an icon Rotterdam can be proud of. Even though the daring design by architectural firm MVRDV for the 14.000 m² art depot presented designers, engineers, suppliers and builders with great technical challenges, the result is unique and the design - affectionately known as 'The Pot' - is renowned. The façade, entirely clad in reflective glass, charmingly mirrors the neighbourhood while eclipsing itself - even though it is the real star.


Both in the search for the best implementation method and in the architectural development of this extraordinary glass façade, the architects were supported by the engineering firm ABT. Looking back on the design process, Rowan van Wely, Senior Project Manager for Structural Engineering at ABT, sees the greatest challenge in keeping the very complex form technically under control. The 1.664 glass panels had to follow the horizontal and vertical lines of the building to the millimetre to achieve the desired visual effect. To achieve this, a layout was developed with 26 unique glass panel types - spherically curved panels. Parametric design tools were used to describe and control shape and reflection.


To achieve natural reflection without discolouration, the choice of glass type and coatings was crucial. Only one mathematical curve guided the entire design and implementation process. This simple line always kept all project partners - from the glass bender to the client - on the right track and ensured that the curved, mirrored façade of the depot became reality piece by piece.

Scope of services: Facade engineering, glass engineering, computational design

Photos: Ossip van Duivenbode,

Aad Hoogendoorn

bottom of page