‘With curves like these you have to go digital’

Hans Polderman

‘Euphoria’ is the word Project Director Hans Polderman uses to describe his feeling on arriving at the Rotterdam Museumpark and setting eyes on the Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen project. The building’s façade is unlike any other in the world. ‘It is clad in clear mirrors that curve in both the horizontal and vertical direction. That’s an absolute first. And the sheer scale of it, too: the total number of individual mirrors is 1,644.’  

It’s not just the design by architects MVRDV that is groundbreaking: for the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, BAM has been commissioned by the Municipality of Rotterdam to build the world’s art repository that will be open to the public. From 2021, no less than 151,000 works of art will be stored and displayed in five separate climatic zones.

Digital construction

The Depot is one of BAM’s many projects currently being built with the assistance of digital construction technology. ‘With curves like those on this project you realise: if we want to make this work, we have to go digital. We have to use BIM,’ says Hans. And so, digital 3D drawings in a building information model (BIM) have resulted in an unheard-of dimensional accuracy in the façade elements.

‘Before placing the real-life anchors in the concrete, we did the whole process in a virtual model to ensure we had the measurements exactly right. And now the mirrors are going up in record time, without us having to go back for final adjustments. If we had built this 20 years ago, someone would have spent ages going over the façade with a screwdriver correcting the alignment of the mirrors. But now we’re getting them all right the first time.’

In-house developments

‘Another interesting fact,’ says a proud Hans, ‘is that the concrete shell for this curving shape was developed and created in house. A considerable amount of calculating was performed by BAM Advies & Engineering, and BAM Materieel poured the concrete in formwork they provided themselves. A fine example of craftsmanship.’