Behind the heliport, with its facade facing Hofdijk, is a three-floor garage that is by far the biggest roofed space for vehicles in Rotterdam. The new garage, built for the Government Car Service, can accommodate 500 vehicles. But it anticipates future growth because only the lower two floors will be occupied. The upper floor will be let to Ter Meulen, a firm whose warehouses in Overschie were destroyed by fire six months ago.
The building, designed by Maaskant, Van Dommelen, Kroos and Senf, is a sturdy structure that fully reflects the building’s function.
Het Vrije Volk, 26 January 1963
The Rijks Automobiel Centrale (RAC) was founded in 1936 to operate the fleet of vehicles of the national postal service. The vehicles of other government services were added later. Garages were built in various towns, with the biggest being built in the early 1960s in Rotterdam. A portion of the garage was rented to Ter Meulen, a mail-order firm. The Department of City Development insisted that the building be taller than strictly necessary for the RAC, which is why another tenant had to be found.
It is unclear why this particular site on an important future access road into the centre was chosen. Heer Bokelweg was intended to link up with the Rotte Tracé, but you would expect to find such a utilitarian building in the Spaanse Polder district rather than the city centre. The proximity to the main post office and the station sorting office probably played a role in the choice of site.
The garage was designed by the architecture firm Maaskant, Van Dommelen, Kroos and Senf. With the Katshoek office building and the Technikon school complex, this office had a significant impact on the Zomerhof District, not least because they are all large concrete structures.
The garage is 90 metres long, 50 metres deep and 13 metres tall, and has a surface area of 13,500 m2. It boasts a very sturdy concrete structure with columns on a basic 7-x-10-metre grid, and seven 30-metre-long prestressed concrete girders. The ground floor has a ceiling height of 3.5 metres and could accommodate 100 large trucks, while the first floor could hold 150 smaller vehicles and the second floor 250 smaller vehicles. Apart from the garage, the ground floor houses a large workshop. The building also contained office space, a canteen and service space. These functions were concentrated in the eastern section. This is the only volume with a basement. The facades are faced in glazed blue-green brickwork that alternates with strips of concrete and glazed top-lights. The main entrance is marked by a cantilevered concrete element featuring a relief by the Rotterdam artist Kees Franse (1924-1982) with recessed planes of colour. Franse depicted the various parts of the RAC in a symbolic manner.
The RAC became an independent company in 1988 as part the privatization of government services. In 1998 the building became the new home of the Rotterdam City Archives. With the addition of additional columns, the heavy structure proved very suitable for storing the sixteen running kilometres of archives. The reading rooms at the top of the building are fitted with rooflights and the existing garage doors are used for deliveries to the archives.