Jan Schaeferbrug

Javakade, Oostelijke Handelskade
Oostelijk Havengebied
Ton Venhoeven
Grondbedrijf Amsterdam
Ballast Nedam, IBA Amsterdam
Bus 32-39-43-59, stop Piet Heinkade
A. Wortmann, 'Het Oostelijk Havengebied in Amsterdam. Drie ontwerpen voor de Javabrug', Archis, december 1996.

Bridge for pedestrians, cyclists and motor traffic

Jan Schaeferbrug spans the two-hundred-metre-wide IJ harbour between Oostelijke Handelskade and the western side of Java island. The bridge improves the link between the city centre and KNSM island and Java island. In the final decades of the twentieth century, these islands in the former dockland area Oostelijk Havengebied were transformed into new residential areas.

For traffic management reasons, the construction of a bridge in line with Kattenburgerstraat was the obvious choice. However, standing near this street, on Oostelijke Handelskade, was the warehouse Willem de Zwijger, built in 1934. The client decided that the warehouse should not be completely demolished but that the bridge should be built right through the building. Architect Ton Venhoeven says that he conceived this trajectory through the building as a cinematic experience: ‘Between the image seen before passing the warehouse and the image afterwards there is a cinematographic shock, comparable to the effect produced when a film leaps from one scene to another’.

Venhoeven’s design is not first and foremost an engineering work that glorifies the technique or, conversely, pretends to limit itself to a neat, rational solution to a problem. The bridge is an ambiguous object which fascinates, among other things, because of the interweaving of the connections for pedestrians, cyclists and motor traffic. On closer inspection, these traffic streams appear to be differentiated. The bridge decks do not ascend equally steeply and the landings for pedestrians are reminiscent of gangplanks. The design is further enlivened by the asymmetrical cambers beneath and above the bridge deck and by the widely positioned posts on which it stands in the IJ. With a view to occasional shipping traffic, sections of the bridge deck are jointed. (ARCAM/DW)