The project Zuiderpark-Stadswalzone in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, makes a bold statement on all fronts. Completed in 2015, the project includes the restoration of the ancient moat and the construction of a large underground parking garage underneath it.
Access to the parking garage is done via a spiral ramp in the centre of bastion “Baselaar”. A trail connects the “Zuiderpark” and the parking garage to the city centre via a path that literally skims the water and travels through the old fortification wall. A brand new city entrance on medieval ground level was also created. All in all, an almost impossible project that only succeeded through a thoroughly integrated approach.
As a resident or visitor of the city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, one will enter the parking garage St. Jan via a spiral ramp in bastion “Baselaar”. After parking your car in the spacious and comfortable parking garage, you will find your way to the main staircase via a corridor which features various pieces of art.
Coming up this main stairwell that is located on the side of the moat, you will experience a superior view over the water towards the restored fortification wall and the tower of the “Judasbrug” (Judas bridge). From the main staircase, visitors can continue the trail towards the city centre by crossing the moat using a foot-bridge that leads right through the city fortification wall. Here you will arrive at the medieval ground level, located approximately four metres below street level. From this level, city visitors continue the route to the centre via a gentle slope in the “Casinotuin” (Casino garden). The route from the main staircase of the parking garage to the centre of the city takes visitors through five centuries of local history.
Upon entering the parking garage, one will see a huge mural depicting ‘s-Hertogenbosch with the word “Welkom” (Welcome) on it. That word “Welkom” was the central theme for the development of the design of the parking garage. The latter is not merely seen as a functional temporary storage area for cars but also as a lobby for the branding of the city itself. Who doesn’t greet old friends and new visitors with a warm welcome?
A second theme that was integrated into the parking garage was the provision of comfort and safety for both drivers and pedestrians. In order to prevent the parking garage from being filled with a lot of columns, it is constructed with a very special structure. The huge forces that are concentrated in the middle of the garage are being supported by angled columns. Visualizing a cross section of three levels, the angled columns form a V-shape on the first one, an inverted V-shape on the third, and a very beautiful X-shape on the second level.
As for the appearance and construction of the project, the architects chose to use pure materials with their original, genuine colours. Materials used are Corten steel, concrete and wood while other parts are finished in an anthracite gray colour. By doing so, the project is in full harmony with previous projects that have been realized along the fortification wall of the city.
On July 21, 2015, the parking garage St. Jan was opened for the public. On that day, the Vexpan (Association of operators of parking garages) awarded this project with the first ESPA Gold award in The Netherlands. This ESPA (European Standard Parking Award) Gold award is a crowning glory for all those involved in this undertaking and who have worked for years to create and build a very special urban area including the realization of excellent accessibility, a highly functional and pleasant parking garage and an easy on the eye outdoor area. City residents, as well as visitors, are very proud of and impressed with the parking garage St. Jan judging by the high volume of positive responses.