Several years ago, the Dutch city of Roosendaal decided it wanted to revive its city center. So they banned cars, and built a two-story underground parking lot to anchor the area. Which sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s not–as a new design by Rene van Zuuk proves.
At first, an urban planning firm (Quadrat) was tasked with simply burying the parking lot, repaving the square, and planting some trees. But at the last minute, the city approved their bygone suggestion to add an oval pavilion, with a restaurant and cafe. That left van Zuuk just five weeks to complete the design–and they had to adhere to the urban planning that was going forward.
They pulled it off. Van Zuuk’s design integrates the pavilion with the square by making the building’s roof into a public space, amenable to loafing, which can also serve as a stage for arts events. This is actually an ancient trick: Some of the most memorable public spaces in the world are basically large sets of stairs–the Spanish Steps in Rome, for example–which give people a chance to rest and people watch. And this idea, originally pointed out by legendary urban theorist Jane Jacobs, hasn’t been lost on today’s designers–witness the TKTS booth in Time’s Square, or this design by Snøhetta.