Unsupported Browser

We've detected an older browser version that will not give you the best experience while using The Atlas. Please consider revisitng this site after downloading one of the alternatives below.

Rotterdam uses underground car park to increase accessibility and provide flood defense

City of Rotterdam

Rotterdam, Netherlands

With 90% of the city below sea level, Rotterdam is particularly vulnerable to sudden flooding events. With their city center being no exception, the city created an underground car park that not only provides more parking, but also functions as a cistern that provides flood protection.

Topics Covered

Coastal & Tidal Flooding
Sea Level Rise
Stormwater Management
Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety


General Fund/Existing Public Funds

Taxes & User Fees

Project Status

Operational since 2011

Problem Addressed

Rotterdam is the Netherlands' second-biggest city, located in a delta of the Rhine and Meuse rivers.

Around 90% of the city is below sea level, making it particularly vulnerable to threatening flood events.

The Museumpark and adjoining event area are important to Rotterdam's city center, meaning that it attracts a lot of citizens and tourists alike. This means that the city ultimately needed more parking in the area; however, the city did not want to sacrifice aesthetic in order to create more parking.

To address potential flooding, lack of parking, and overall city center aesthetic, Rotterdam pursued a unique solution.

Solutions Used

Rotterdam decided to fix up its museumpark because of its importance to the community.

The park got a greener character and the romantic garden was restored. This has increased the park's aesthetic appearance for park attendees.

To accommodate more visitors, the city created a 3-story underground car park that accommodates 1,150 cars. With pedestrian interests in mind, the car park added to the new park's aesthetic. To further meet pedestrian needs, two 'daylight zones' were placed around pedestrian entrances and exits to illuminate all levels of the car park. These zones provided pedestrian zones with extra lighting and safe crossing places.

The underground car park also offers a solution for flooding prevention in the city center. With a capacity of 10 million litres of water, the content of four Olympic swimming pools, this storage ensures that in the case of heavy rainfall flooding is kept to a minimum in the city center. As soon as the sewer system threatens to overflow, the hatch of the underground water reservoir is opened. Within half an hour, the reservoir, which measures 60 by 35 meters, fills. When there is space in the sewer system, the water in the reservoir is pumped into the sewer. In addition, there is a three-floor void on two sides with a glazed ceiling and a glass void cap that was specifically designed using safety glass that offers protection from the spread of fire, radiant heat and temperature insulation to provide safe exit routes in the case of fire.



Increased parking for visitors and citizens with 1,150 new parking spots provided by the car park


Stormwater capture of 10,000m³, protecting the vulnerable city of Rotterdam in the case of a sudden flooding event


Saved Rotterdam several million euros by combining the car park and water storage.

Something Unique

Project also included the development of nearby "water plazas" that under normal conditions are playgrounds but that temporarily hold water during heavy rain, then slowly release it to the drainage system.

Who Should Consider

Communities looking for unique solutions in the case of a sudden flooding event.

Last Updated

Mar 18th, 2022

More resources about this case study

More Local Gov Case Studies from The Atlas Database
The Atlas case study database features examples of city projects – including both earth-moving projects and installed technologies – from around the world. You will not find proposed projects, or links to research studies and planning documents. There are 500+ member submitted case studies to browse - see related case studies to this one below:
Browse All Case Studies