45,000 Cubic Meter Man

Looking at everything that is about to happen on Woudestein campus, a car park may seem a rather less exciting part of things. It becomes quite a different story when you stop to consider that a vital component – Plaza – can only be built once this double-layered car park has been constructed. Also, the campus image will be completely turned around once campus is carfree. To top it all, the underground car park is going to be fairly unusual. Who’s the lucky one to bring all this about…?

In October 2010, Richard Lokhorst (42) from Beverwijk was appointed ‘car park man’. Like many a self-employed person, his diary is brimming over: now an EFB project manager, he is also project director for Leidsche Rijn Centrum, a new residential area near Utrecht. ‘Doing the two projects is enjoyable: one still in its early stages with a preliminary design, the other – where we’ve been sitting round the table with building constructors for some time – well underway.’ In addition, Richard is assisting with the Student Pavilion.

Practice versus books
‘Jack of all trades’ is an apt description of the car park’s project manager. Also, he is one for getting where he wants to be: in order to do architecture at the Technical University of Delft, he had to work his way right up in the Dutch schooling system: from mavo and MTS to HTS. Later on, when he was working, he used his evenings to take a Master’s in Real Estate at Amsterdam University.  It’s understandable that after all these years of studying, he prefers putting theory into practice for now.

Erasmus University RotterdamAnd quite successfully, too: the car park’s planning is looking good. Vibro-driving the sheet piling took less time than planned, and already, a mountainous amount of soil has been dug out to form the construction pit: 45.000 m³. Many a campus user breathed more lightly when vibro-driving the sheet piling was finished earlier than planned. Soil resistance turned out to be lower than expected, and more pile drivers were used at once. ‘The disadvantage of that being more sound at the same time, of course.’ In spite of the fact that the sheet piling was put into place during the summer holidays, a relatively large number of people experienced noise nuisance. This was because quite a lot of people were still at work.
Environmental assistance
The only hiccup in an otherwise smooth planning was caused when about 5,000 of the total 45,000 m³ of soil turned out to not be 100 per cent clean. Some lightly polluted areas were found. Fortunately, there is environmental assistance throughout, and there have been no health risks. The 5,000 m³ of soil has now virtually all been taken off campus and cleaned up. What caused the pollution? ‘Way back when, port sediment was used to raise the level of the land. Even including the pretty steep costs and delay involved in taking the polluted soil off campus and cleaning it up, though, we stayed within planning and budget.’

The car park is of great importance to EUR, Richard thinks. ‘It really is the basis for campus renewal, especially as one of the main axes of the new campus infrastructure is to be built on top of it. The completion of phase 1 of the car park late 2012 enables the construction of Plaza. And after phase 2, in 2015, cars will no longer be eyesores on campus and the present parking lot off Collegelaan will be turned into an actual park. This will benefit the looks and feel of the campus enormously.’

Unusual design
He sings the praises of the design. The way it will fit in with the surrounding landscape, halfway between the lower and the higher parts of campus, is atypical for car parks. Voids and staircases will lead visitors directly to the pedestrian part of Plaza, from which they can walk in any direction on campus. ‘Its 1,000 parking bays and size – 400 m long, 32 m wide – mean it will be very spacious. But because of the well-thought out design, it will be easy to find your car back even without any signposting. Unusual, too, is that cables and pipes will be covered with a lamella ceiling, creating a tidier and more luxurious look. Also, the car park will have the bare minimum of pillars, resulting in maximum flexibility and parking space for all types of private transport. In other words, it’s the kind of car park that’s future-proof.’ 

Richard has been working in real estate development and project management for 18 years now. One of his previous employers was ING Vastgoed. This is the second time he has worked for a principal who is in the business of education. He once worked on the construction of a lab for Leiden University. The speed with which Erasmus Facility Services deal with matters has pleasantly surprised him. Any problems are solved quickly and expertly by the small Campus under Construction team. ‘That’s quite telling. Besides that, I’m very happy with the trust and freedom I am given in doing this project.’

Finally, a plain old curious question. For what can we wake him up in the middle of the night? Chuckling: ‘Nothing for, truth be told. But if you really, really have to: lasagna!’