Under the Kleine-Gartmanplantsoen, one of the busiest squares in Amsterdam right next to the Leidseplein, the underground bicycle parking Leidseplein designed by the architectural studio ZJA has been inaugurated. The forty lizards of Blaauw Jan, a work of art by Hans van Houwelingen have returned to the park and watch over the bicycles in the parking. On one hand the lizards of the work of art are integrated in the design of the bicycle parking. And on the other, the bridge over the Lijnbaansgracht, designed in the characteristic style of the Amsterdam School, is also a leading visual element in the design of the bicycle parking and its entrance.
ZJA, together with Ballast Nedam, was awarded the contract by the municipality of Amsterdam for the construction and design of the bicycle parking Leidseplein under the Kleine-Gartmanplantsoen. By bringing all bicycles underground, a spatial, green square has been created above ground. This has been designed by landscape architect Ruwan Aluvihare of the municipality of Amsterdam, and provides space for visitors to the Leidseplein. Thus a renewed meeting place for the city has been created.
Erik Smits, project architect at ZJA: “Before the Leidseplein underground bicycle parking garage was built, the Kleine-Gartmanplantsoen was full of bicycles. 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.”
The bicycle parking has two entrances; one for pedestrians and one for cyclists. The characteristic Amsterdam School style of the bridge over the Lijnbaansgracht has been continued in the wall of the entrance to the bicycle parking. This masonry wall in warm red brick continues underground in a straight line to the entrance at the Leidseplein. The wall thus not only connects both entrances, but also connects the underground with the world above.
Light and spacious bicycle parking
In the new bicycle parking, 2000 bicycles can be stored in a safe and dry manner. In the design, ZJA has given extra attention to the entry of daylight into the bicycle parking and lighting above the footpaths. What is remarkable is the wider paths and greater height (3.20 m) of the bicycle parking. This creates a light and spacious space with a transparent and pleasant atmosphere, which contributes to social safety.
With the redevelopment of the Kleine-Gartmanplantsoen and the construction of the Leidseplein bicycle parking, the forty lizards of Blaauw Jan, a public work of art by Hans van Houwelingen have also returned to the park. In the grass and on the natural stone wall that continues into the entrance of the bicycle parking, forty bronze iguanas, monitor lizards and agames adorn the roof of the bicycle parking. As a nod to this, the floor of the bicycle parking is provided with lizards that guide the pedestrians to the exit on the Leidseplein.