Eastern metro line

B. Spängberg & S. van Rhijn
Dienst Publieke Werken Amsterdam
Metro 51-53-54
Een metro in Amsterdam, metrovoorlichting GVB, Amsterdam 1977; Ben Eerhart, 'Maat en schaal tegenover knusse versiersels. Vormgeving van de Amsterdamse metrostations', in: Wonen-TABK nr. 21, 1977.

Metro line between Central Station and Gaasperplas/Gein

In the early sixties, Amsterdam city council drew up plans to build an extensive, partially underground, metro network. Due to the increase in car traffic, the average speed of trams and buses decreased and there was an increase in demand for good and fast pubic transport. The metro concept fitted in with the city planners’ future vision for Amsterdam: a city with many office and public functions, surrounded by residential areas from where commuters could quickly and easily travel into the city by metro.

In 1965, it was decided to construct a metro network to replace the outdated tram network. The proposal comprised four lines. A start was made with the eastern line because of the limited number of underground stations this required. In addition, the eastern line connected the city centre and the city’s central railway station with the Bijlmermeer, which was under construction at that time. The aboveground, separate metro was an important part of the separated traffic system that was built here.

Construction of the metro was technically highly complex. Because of the soft peaty soil, it was decided not to dig a tunnel, but rather, under high pressure, to sink caisson sections that had been joined together. This method coupled with the route through the old city implied the demolition of development in the Nieuwmarktbuurt area, which met with considerable opposition. The first underground section, as far as Weesperplein station, was opened in 1977.

Although construction of the metro was dominated by technical factors, it was also the intention that architecture should play a role in the project. For the designers Spangberg and Van Rhijn, passenger comfort was paramount. This is evident in the neutral design of the stations and the use of various shades of grey for the walls. The designers had to give consideration not only to the intensive use of the metro, but also vandalism. By pouring the concrete for the stations in rough shuttering, the aim was to give structure to the columns that dominate the underground stations. Much of the untreated concrete has now been painted with ant-graffiti paint. The walls of the underground stations are clad with porous, grey concrete brick in order to improve the acoustics and to emphasize the neutrality of the design.

The aboveground stations are virtually all (with the exception of the stations Bijlmer, Kraaiennest and Venserpolder) designed in the same way. As a result, they are autonomous objects, which more or less ignore their built context. The standard stations consist of an island platform along which the tracks run. On either side of the platform is an entrance, so that each station has two entrances and exits. This entrance consists of a staircase, an escalator and sometimes a lift. The stairs and the escalator have been roofed over, giving rise to a characteristic slanting roof line.

The platform roofs are suspended between the two platform entrances and rest on steel columns with a large concrete foot. Wooden beams, which are covered by box-shaped multiplex elements, are mounted on these steel columns. The acrylic continuous roof lights, which connect the roof sections, deliver light to the platform and absorb subsidence. The station entrance halls contain ticket and service counters. In 1979, Spangberg and Van Rhijn were awarded the Merkelbach Prize for their metro design. (ARCAM/VK)