(NL) Noord/Zuidlijn

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(NL) Metro Oostlijn

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Datacenter AM4

The English translation of this post will follow soon.


The English translation of this post will follow soon.

Voorzieningengebouw en SET-gebouw Noord/Zuidlijn

In 2003, work commenced on a challenging project: the construction of the North/South metro line. The metro is scheduled to start running in mid-2018 and will give Amsterdam Noord a fast connection, via the city centre, with Station Zuid. The facilities building and the SET (Signal, Energy and Telecom) building, both designed by MOPET Architects, mark the starting point and terminus of the new metro line.

The facilities building
The facilities building is located in Amsterdam Noord, close to the A10 orbital motorway. This striking structure marks the northern terminus of the North/South line and is where engine drivers, office and maintenance staff can take a break, consult with each other and change their clothes. There is also storage space for cleaning equipment and tools. The surrounding maintenance yard is where metro trains are cleaned and repaired. The building presented MOPET Architects with a major challenge. It was not easy to find a sufficiently large and accessible location. Moreover, the building was not allowed to obstruct the view of passing traffic or dazzle motorists with bright lighting. The design solution is a modern signal box, executed in Corten steel.

SET building
The SET building is located in the Zuidas and is sandwiched between the A10 orbital motorway and the railway line. It will provide the electricity for the North/South line. Every day, thousands of people pass the building by car, metro and train. MOPET Architects did not want to distract attention away from the imposing Zuidas skyline and so produced a low-profile design. The roof of the 73 metre long building is partially covered with greenery. As a result, the building merges with the green verge of the A10 motorway. The diagonal pattern of the Corten steel sheet-pile walls produces a sturdy, infrastructural aura. It is as if the metro sticks its head above the ground before continuing to its destination.

Although the facilities building is completely different from the SET building, MOPET’s signature is unmistakable. Thanks to the characteristic rusty colour of the Corten steel, the two buildings are clearly related.

RAI Amsterdam

The RAI in Amsterdam is an international exhibition and conference centre. Founded in 1893, the society ‘Rijwiel en Automobiel Industrie’ (bicycle and motorcar industry) has developed into the world’s busiest exhibition and conference centre. Since the RAI relocated to its current site in 1961, the complex has been extended on a number of occasions. The most recent addition to the complex, completed in August, is the parking garage.

House architect Benthem Crouwel Architects
The new parking garage was designed by Benthem Crouwel Architects. This office has been architectural supervisor for the entire RAI complex since 1989. Among the buildings Benthem Crouwel Architects has designed over the past twenty years are Amtrium (2015) and Elicium (2009). The parking garage is the office’s most recent project for the RAI.

The parking garage has a sleek, rectangular form. It is thirty metres high and has eight parking levels. The building distinguishes itself from other parking garages by its multifunctional spaces. With a height of 7.2 metres, the first level is higher than the other parking levels and so can be used as an additional conference space. Moreover, it can be connected, by means of sliding doors, to the surrounding halls in the RAI complex. The building’s roof can also be used for various activities. Vertical fins have been added to the design in order to tie it in with the other buildings, which also feature vertical fins, in the RAI complex.

A distinctive feature of the building are the two spiral-shaped structures, so-called ‘Wokkels’, on the south side of the building. These structures separate traffic entering and exiting the building, enabling an efficient parking system. They are composed of precast concrete elements that are stacked to form the access and exit ramps on the various parking levels. The Wokkels are the building’s defining feature and form an eyecatcher from the A10 motorway. At night they are accentuated further by blue LED lines.

De Magere Brug

The history of this bridge goes back to the construction of the eastern canal ring in around 1660. Early maps of the area show a bridge at the intersection of the Amstel and Kerkstraat.

Construction and reconstruction
Thirty years later, a simple, narrow drawbridge with thirteen arches was built over the Amstel. Almost two hundred years later, this by now rather dilapidated bridge was in need of replacement and in 1871 a new double wooden drawbridge was built with nine arches. Although today’s Magere Brug bears a close resemblance to this nineteenth-century design, the present bridge was actually built in 1931, when the cross-river connection was once again renewed.

The origin of the bridge’s name (‘mager’ is Dutch for skinny) is perhaps more interesting than its history. What’s certain is that this name came into use sometime during the eighteenth century. One logical-sounding explanation is that the first bridge was so narrow that only ‘skinny’ pedestrians were able to pass each other on it. Another possibility is that boatmen, who had difficulty manoeuvring their cargoes through one of the thirteen narrow arches, gave the bridge its name.

A more amusing theory is that two sisters, who lived on opposite sides of the Amstel, commissioned the bridge’s construction. The name ‘Magere Brug’ would in that case refer to either the sisters’ surname or their physique. Another suggestion is that the sisters’ miserliness resulted in a rather ‘meagre’ bridge.

Whoever was responsible for the construction of the Magere Brug, and however narrow the result, he or she could scarcely have imagined that this bridge would today feature prominently in countless guide books as the ‘Skinny Bridge’.

Cycle- and pedestrian bridge Erasmusgracht

Erasmusgracht, a key element in Nieuw-West, runs straight through an area with on one side the neighbourhood Kolenkitbuurt and on the other side the area Laan van Spartaan, which is currently under development. For pedestrians and cyclists, these two districts are already connected by bridges along the A10 orbital motorway and near Leeuwendalersweg. A new bridge has now been built in between, which when the new development has been completed will be part of a main route to and from Bos en Lommerplein.

The bridge catches the eye here because of its sculptural character. From a single asymmetrically positioned support in the water, the ends rest on the green banks of the canal. The bridge does not have heavy abutments, but rather light ends which can absorb the contraction and expansion of the bridge under the influence of temperature fluctuations.

The structure consists of two steel main girders on either side of the bridge deck. These girders follow the so-called ‘momentum line’ and together with taut steel cables also form the low bridge rails. The steel plates have a light grey coating and are folded sharply like paper, giving rise to constantly changing perspectives when the bridge is approached. Sunlight on the surfaces and its reflection via the water reinforce this effect.

The bridge’s total span is 50 metres. The height above the water is high enough for small boats and skaters and allows small animals to follow their own, ecological, main route on the canal banks. (ARCAM/MB/MK)

Metro station Kraaiennest

Metro station as beacon

The completion of the redeveloped Kraaiennest metro station in the Bijlmer is the final piece in the large-scale renovation of ‘K area’. The old Kraaiennest station, the last but one station on the Gaasperplas metro line, has undergone a radical transformation. The redevelopment of Kraaiennest metro station is part of the Bijlmer regeneration project and of the Oostlijn renovation project. The architects were therefore faced with the challenge of designing, around and over the existing platform and metro track, a functional, easy to manage and safe station, whose architectural quality would impact on the surrounding area. The design comprises a roof, a station concourse and an emergency stairwell. The decorative elements and the warm colours contrast with the sober concrete of the existing metro tracks and the platform.

The technical spaces are situated in a closed concrete volume clad with stainless steel, the lowest four metres of which are punctured with decorative plant motif openings in order to deter illegal postering and graffiti and to allow daylight inside. During the day, the patterns in this screen create a play of light inside the station concourse. In the dark, the station is illuminated from inside and presents itself as a beacon for the neighbourhood.

As well as a decorative function, the station’s double skin also has a structural function, whereby the escalator and lift core support large sections of the platform. Three escalators and a lift give access to the platform, which is situated eleven metres higher. The new, solid-looking platform roof rests on comparatively slender columns. The underside of the platform roof, which is prominently visible for passengers ascending on the escalator, is bright red. (ARCM/AT)


Nineteenth-century urban island between Oosterdok and IJ

In advance of the construction of Centraal Station, in around 1870 three islands were created in the IJ’s open harbour front: Westerdokseiland, Stationseiland and Oosterdokseiland. The station building, completed in 1889, was built on the middle island. Oosterdokseiland, which came into being when part of Oosterdoksdijk (1834) was further enlarged, was used mainly as a railway yard. The island is bounded on its eastern side by the Oostelijke Onderdoorgang, the connection between Oosterdok and the IJ on the site of the former lock Oosterdokssluis. To the west lies the (closed) fairway between the Oude Wal and the IJ.

Because the shunting yards on Oosterdokseiland had become redundant due to the electrification of the railway line, in the 1960s the island was chosen as a suitable site for a new, modern station post office building. This much-praised modernist design by P.H. Elling was completed in 1968. The complex of platform building, letter post building and parcel post building/office building, occupied the entire southern part of the island.

In the course of the twentieth century, Amsterdam’s dock functions relocated westwards far beyond the city centre. New plans were drawn up for large areas of the former docks. In the nineties, the city council launched a phased redevelopment of the southern IJ waterfront, which included Oosterdokseiland. Because post was no longer transported by rail and a new use for the building seemed problematic, it was decided that Elling’s post office should be demolished. Erick van Egeraat drew up the master plan for the freed-up space. With, among other things, its radial configuration, the plan seeks to engage with the old city centre.

At the same time, Van Egeraat’s plan can be characterized as ‘metropolitan’ because of the high building density and mix of functions. In addition to the main public library, completed in 2007, and the new building for the music conservatory (2008), the plan also provides for offices, shops, cafes and restaurants, hundreds of dwellings and a large hotel with conference facility. The redevelopment of the island is scheduled for completion in 2014. (ARCAM/DW)

Bruggen IJburg

Bridge families

Water plays a key role in the plans for the expansion area IJburg. In view of its location in the open water of IJmeer, it was decided to bring the element water and the experience of water to street level. IJburg has a high building density, as a result of which considerable attention has been given to the quality of the public space. In many areas, the urban designers have opted for blue (canals, watercourses, harbours) rather than green (parks, gardens and flowerbeds). Public life therefore often takes place on the inner canals, the quays and IJmeer. The requirements of water control and the accessibility of the islands, together with the focus on water in the design, have resulted in the construction of a large number of bridges, locks and other structural works. In order to preserve an overview of all these works and to create unity, the bridges and locks in the first phase of IJburg’s construction have been divided into five families. Each family has its own formal idiom, which is in keeping with its function and surroundings.

IJburg’s main bridges are situated in open outer water and connect the islands to each other and to the city. They form part of the main infrastructure for cars, bicycles and the tram. Grimshaw & Partners, who also designed the Ennëus Heermabrug and Brug 2002, is responsible for the design of the family Hoofdbruggen (main bridges), also known as Eilandbruggen (island bridges). Quist Wintermans architects designed the bridge family De Lange Lijn (the long line). IJburg’s main eastern connection with the motorways A1/A9 follows a long route through a green and tranquil rural area. The design is low-key and unobtrusive in the landscape. Nesciobrug, a cycle and pedestrian bridge over the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal, designed by Jim Eyre, is part of this family.

The Binnengracht (inner canal) family is in keeping with the stony, compact development on Haveneiland. Erna van Sambeek designed brick abutments and steel spans. The black steel bridges by the architect Birgit Rapp, with high walls that separate the pedestrian section from the cyclists and car section, are reminiscent of industrial railway bridges. The architects Roberto Meyer and Jeroen van Schooten have given expression to the marked transition between the urban Haveneiland West and the green living environment on Grote Rieteiland in the design of the bridge family De Groen Tunnel (the green tunnel). The bridges located on the edges of the islands are the lightest and most transparent of all the bridges. These form part of the family Buitenwater (outer water) and were designed by Jan Benthem.


Ornamental bridges at Java-eiland

The four canals that traverse Java-eiland can be crossed via black wrought-iron bridges.

In total there are nine bridges, designed by the Belgian artists Guy Rombouts and Monica Droste. In their work, they cause the boundary between art and language to blur. In the bridges, this is expressed in a so-called formal alphabet, the Azart. With this, the artists have sought to restore the relationship between the alphabet and visible reality. They have identified forms with letters, as a result of which the bridges as a whole form a word. The bridge on the south side of Brantasgracht, for example, represents ‘science’. As a result, no bridge is the same. Anyone who knows nothing about the alphabet will, however, never be able to decipher the language. The typical pedestrian with no knowledge of the deeper idea will therefore find the bridges frivolous.

The decorated bridges contrast sharply with the solid, brick bridges by Paul Wintermans on the north side of the island, used by motorized traffic. And yet Wintermans was also responsible for converting the artistic design by Rombouts and Droste into an architectural structure.


Innovative railway architecture

Amstel Station in Amsterdam is a combined metro and main railway station on the route between Amsterdam and Utrecht. It was the first station in the Netherlands to be designed as a hub for multiple transport modes, and this is one of several factors in its pioneering reputation. Construction of the station formed part of an unemployment relief scheme. It was a replacement for the former Weesperpoort terminus, which functioned unsatisfactorily. At the time of building its location was at the periphery of Amsterdam and it served new suburbs such as Rivierenbuurt and Watergraafsmeer then in development.

The architect, H.G.J. Schelling, was a Delft-trained engineer who worked for the national railways from 1913 until his retirement in 1954, designing countless railway stations during his career. Amstel Station was in several respects an innovation within his considerable oeuvre. The monumental station hall, which resembles a hybrid between a church and a factory, has a traditional saddle roof combined with windows in the side walls. With its extensive use of glass, steel and concrete, this was the first time daylight played such an important part in station architecture. The hall has low side aisles which contain among other things the ticket offices. The interior of the hall is decorated with frescos by Peter Alma which extol rail transport in a Social Realist style.

The environs of Amstel Station are due for a major renovation. A remodelled public space and the construction of new hotels, shops, housing, offices and amenities are intended to enhance the liveliness, attractiveness and public safety of the zone. These plans accord with the municipal and national policy of concentrating new building around transport hubs, thereby relieving pressure on the city’s green belt. The completion of this operation is expected for 2020. (ARCAM/DW)

Mr. Visserplein

A jumble of roads

Old aerial photographs of the eastern part of Amsterdam city centre show Weesperstraat as a straight line that cuts through the urban fabric from a southeasterly direction before terminating in the jumble of roads in the square Mr. Visserplein. This jumble has been sorted out following a number of traffic management improvements. What remains are the remnants of a traffic roundabout that has never functioned as such.

This is most clearly visible in the tram tracks that cut across the square and the copper green arches over the entrance to the covered playground Tunfun. As the name of this children’s paradise suggests, this section of the square was designed as a tunnel to Valkenburgerstraat and up until the nineties also functioned as such. Mr. Visserplein was built in 1967 as a turntable directing traffic towards the western city centre, the IJ tunnel or via a four-lane expressway directly to the city’s main railway station, Centraal Station.

The expressway was never built; old aerial photographs again show how from Mr. Visserplein the carriageway becomes two lanes in Jodenbreestraat, before terminating in a single lane in Sint Antoniesbreestraat. This is very different from what the city’s urban planners had envisaged back in the fifties and sixties.
Mr. Visserplein was built not only for traffic management reasons, but also because the city council wanted to demolish the rundown neighbourhoods around Waterlooplein. When, in the mid seventies, the Nieuwmarktbuurt area was also threatened with demolition in order to make way for the projected four-lane expressway, major protests erupted in the city. In the eighties, the plots on Sint Antoniesbreestraat where housing had already been demolished were once again filled with residential development rather than roads. However, it was already too late for Mr. Visserplein and this square has functioned ever since as a half traffic roundabout that primarily channels traffic towards the IJ tunnel.

The plots around the square were gradually filled with buildings, such as, for example, the Maupoleum – which was demolished in 1994 after 23 years in order to make way for new build – and the Netherlands Film and Television Academy. However, the public space here has never been attractive and because of the high number of road casualties, in 2008 the city council decided to redevelop the square. Wibautstraat, redesigned as an urban boulevard, is now linked to a slightly less bleak and at any rate safer square. (ARCAM)

Booster Zuid

Poo and architecture

Anyone who takes the metro in the direction of Amsterdam Zuidoost will, just before Van der Madeweg station, see the unusual results this improbable combination can produce. In the angle of the metro viaducts for lines 50 and 51 is a futuristic chrome-coloured building, with the equally futuristic name ‘Booster Station-Zuid’.

It is a booster pumping station, which pumps sewage from the Zuidoost district towards the sewage treatment plant in Westelijk Havengebied. Attentive passengers on line 50 in particular will have noticed the building, since trains on the circular line often have to wait for a green signal at the highest point of the viaduct.

Some see a spaceship in the pumping station, others an engine block. The striking matt silver exterior fits in perfectly with the silver-grey cladding of the metro viaducts situated behind, as a result of which, from certain angles, it is as if the flyovers are linked to the engine block like petrol hoses.

Prior to the building’s completion, the pumping stations of Amsterdam’s sewage system were hidden away in nondescript concrete bunkers and brick sheds. However, in 1998 new European regulations for the treatment of wastewater compelled the council to reconstruct the city’s sewage system. It was decided to build a central sewage treatment plant in Westelijk Havengebied, to which sewage would be pumped via four pumping stations dotted around the city. In contrast to other large-scale infrastructural interventions in Amsterdam’s boggy soil, the construction of the new sewage system went smoothly and virtually unnoticed by the city’s inhabitants.

These curious ‘boosters’ appeared in the urban landscape in the course of 2005 and 2006. An eye-catching design was chosen for each of the four buildings, but Booster Station-Zuid is perhaps the most daring. Form is clearly determined by function here; the extension at the rear of the building contains the high-voltage unit and the pipes that extend from the building are the sewage pipes to the pumps.
If the stainless steel building is eye-catching by day, it attracts even more attention when it’s dark. Then the seams between the steel plates are illuminated, as if the light is trying to burst out of the building. Booster Station-Zuid is a building whose function may seem dull, but whose outward form is extravagant – an enrichment for the monotonous business parks in Amsterdam Zuidoost. (ARCAM)