A 663-space car park close to the beach at the popular coastal town of Katwijk in the Netherlands has been completely concealed within a sand dune to retain the beauty and character of the beachfront. The award-winning structure also forms part of the coastal flood defence and exemplifies the concept of nature inclusive design.

The challenge was to integrate much-needed parking space for residents and visitors within the town’s new water defence system without spoiling the views and character of the resort. The ingenious architectural design for the car park was developed by Royal HaskoningDHV for the municipality of Katwijk. It formed part of a project to upgrade and reinforce the dike protecting the low-lying coastal region from the sea. Both the dike and the car park blend into the surroundings within an artificial dune.

The location of the car park between the dike-in-dune and the boulevard is unique in the Netherlands. The project has been described as ground-breaking, not only because the car park is an exceptional structure but it underlines the innovation that is required in the Netherlands to protect the coastline for the future.

Car park size creates challenge for user-friendly design

Careful design was essential for the car park which extends for 500m on a single level and accommodates more than 650 spaces. Users need to quickly orientate themselves inside the car park and also find their way out easily to either the town or beach. To ensure its success, Royal HaskoningDHV consulted widely and, on completion, residents were invited to test park their vehicles. The car park has since received an average rating of 8.5/10 from users on accessibility and ease of use.

The entire structure was integrated within the natural dune landscape using colours and materials sympathetic to the surroundings. It has won a number of prestigious international design awards, including Building of the Year from the Royal Institute of Dutch Architects (BNA).