The Netherlands Voted A Garage Its Best Building Of The Year–Here’s Why

Sourced from Fast Co Design

Schools, hospitals, houses, churches. Of the 125 projects competing for the title of the Royal Institute of Dutch Architects’ Best Building Of The Year, there were plenty of very visible, beautiful contestants. But you might not even notice the building that won.

It’s a subterranean parking garage holding 670 spots, covered by rolling sand dunes along the coastline of a small coastal town called Katwijk aan Zee (“Katwijk by the sea”), a beach town west of Leiden and north of the Hague. An underground parking garage may not fit the mold of the kinds of projects that typically win design competitions. Yet, while the architecture itself is fairly straightforward, the garage is just one part of the larger, holistic project, as both the judges and Bustler pointed out. Its scope and mission are far larger than those of a typical building.

The jury called it “virtually flawless,” and more than 5,000 people voted it the year’s crowd favorite, beating out entries by the likes of MVRDV and other major Dutch architects.

The Netherlands is one of the most endangered country in the world when it comes to sea level rise. A 2014 analysis by Climate Central showed that it tops any other country on Earth in terms of the percentage of the population that will be exposed to climate change; a whopping 47% of the country’s population currently lives on dry land that will be below sea level by the end of this century. Within this already at-risk country, coastal towns like Katwijk aan Zee are the most endangered. These are places where climate change is already visible–cities and villages that are already racing to build the infrastructure necessary to stall the endlessly rising ocean tides.

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