Off The Chain: A Luminous Facility For Storing Bikes

by Murrye Bernard

Source: Architzer

This project won the 2013 Architizer A+ Jury Award in the parking structures category. See the full list of winners here.

eac867b0a483c80f90cfde227f1279f5-jpgFinding safe bicycle storage is a perpetual problem for two-wheeling city dwellers. It’s a gamble to chain bikes to street signs or meters, running the risk that upon your return your bike will have been reduced to little more than a set of handle bars. The new Bicycle Station ICE Bahnhof Erfurt, designed by Osterwold+Schmidt Architecture, provides a little peace of mind for Erfurt residents and serves as a boon for the thriving bicycling culture in eastern Germany.

Initially, plans for a new intercity rail station in Erfurt didn’t include a solution for the large number of bicyclists in the area, but the city government noted their plight and held a competition for the design of a storage structure on a triangular site adjacent to the station. The winning design is one of the first structures of its kind to combine bicycle storage with other types of program space. In addition to providing 260 cycle racks, 32 lockers, and a bike rental and service station, the facility also includes workshops and office space as well as a stand for refreshments. It even has a charcoal grill for cooking up the region’s beloved traditional sausage (let’s hope they made room for a few kegs, too).

Osterwold+Schmidt partner Matthias Schmidt likens the facility’s design to a hybrid between street furniture and a functional building. The architects created a translucent facade made of polycarbonate panels that wrap the entire building with a total length of 70 meters and heights ranging from three to eight meters. It glows a soft yellow at night, offset by the gold and silver silhouettes of cyclists. “The ‘shining shed’ stands for this special kind of hybrid typology,” explains Schmidt. “The facades and the lighting design provides a narrative about the building’s contents to increase the status and value of the bicycle culture.”

The polycarbonate panels are not only luminous and inviting, but they are also cost-effective over glass. The material has also proven to be durable through its performance in sports facilities and industrial architecture. Resisting damage and vandalism is crucial given the facility’s proximity to the rail station, which is often inundated by angry fans of losing football teams.