Oosterdokseiland, Zuidelijke IJoever
Designed by Erick van Egeraat e.a.
MAB Development Group BV, Den Haag
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Commercieel, Cultuur, Infra, Kantoren, Leisure, Onderwijs, Voorziening, Wonen

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)