Copyright: MVRDV architects,

Safety and interaction integrated in new open depot building

When a temporary lack of space proves an obstacle to a museum that is keen to display its collection to the public, a modern and interactive open depot building is the perfect solution. This was the plan with which the Rotterdam Museum Boijmans van Beuningen approached Royal HaskoningDHV. Erik Stam, Project Manager Security and Safety at Royal HaskoningDHV: "We are contributing to the design and safety of this new building."

The aim is not to create a facility behind the scenes for restoration work and storage, but a hyper-modern open depot building where the public can see what’s going on and admire the artworks. Interactively. For Boijmans van Beuningen, this is what modern museum management is all about. "It's about the valuable collection, so safety and security are an essential part of the plan," says Stam.

Open depot building integral part of museum

"Boijmans van Beuningen wants to be an 'open' museum and show its visitors how it operates on a day-to-day basis. The open depot building is an integral part of the museum. It's interesting for visitors to see what goes on and which artworks are stored there. In fact, a large part of the collection is not displayed in the museum but is still of value to the public," says Stam, who explains that he is working on plans how to exhibit this part of the collection to the public.

Safeguarding the art's quality

"This should be an interactive part of the museum," says Stam. "The visitor to the museum must be able to see what the open depot building contains and what's happening there in just a few steps. But a vital requirement for the open depot building is that it must be dark. This is essential to preserve the collection's quality. As we learned from our experience with the City Archives in Amsterdam, you can do a great deal with dimmed light. Visitors can play with the lighting, switching from blue to a softer colour, for example.

Integrating safety and security measures

"At Boijmans van Beuningen, we go one step further by making the restoration area accessible too. The plan is to make extensive use of glass as a way of creating openness. The public can switch on the lights, which will automatically switch off after a period of time. LED light sources ensure that UV radiation and temperature fluctuations are minimal. Our thinking is primarily driven by flows: that includes visitor and personnel flows, as well as logistics flows. We then plan how to incorporate safety and security requirements into the structural design. Because even though the open depot building will be interactive, safety and security are vitally important," Stam tells us. The architect is therefore closely involved in the process to ensure that his vision stays intact. "Finally we map out the monitoring area and incorporate the safety and security measures into this area. Ultimately, no one should be inconvenienced by anyone else."