The much-talked about project Amfora gets a sequel.

Densification is an ideal way to lower the carbon- footprint of mankind. Townspeople use less individual transport, facilities and infrastructure are shared by a larger number of people, and stacking functions saves valuable ground. And Amsterdam is bursting at the seams. Lack of space, an excess of traffic and parked cars, messy urban situations and cluttered streets pose a major problem and conceal the beauty of the old city.

Amfora Amstel solves all these issues for the area around the Amstel in one big and largely invisible gesture. On a length of approx. 500 meters an underground building with six levels will be placed underneath the river Amstel. The top three levels contain mainly public spaces, while the lower floors are used for parking. Infrastructural elements such as sewer system and cables will be placed underground. This frees space aboveground so the boulevard along the Amstel will be an attractive area again, institutions get more space and are better connected, and the general quality of life in the neighbourhood is enhanced.

Amfora Amstel is the first step in the realisation of the Amfora project and serves as a test case for this highly ambitious project.


The location on the river Amstel is home to a variety of major cultural institutions in Amsterdam such as Theatre Carré, Museum the Hermitage, the luxurious Hotel Amstel and various university institutes.

The analysis shows that the major problems of the institutions in the area lie in the lack of space for larger functions and facilities. Better connections between the buildings would make close collaboration possible.

The urban fabric is characterised by messy streetscapes due to the addition of garages, storage sheds and the like. The public space is disrupted and the riverside is clogged by cars. This means that one of the most beautiful spots in Amsterdam is hardly accessible.

All these functions can easily be placed underground. This opens up the streetfront, and the freed spaces can be used for shops, restaurants or apartments.

Creative Amsterdam

The Carré Theatre gets a new lobby and an additional auditorium. The Amstel Hotel is directly connected to the meeting rooms and congress facilities on the first two underground floors that can be used for all kinds of public and cultural events. The universities will get new lecture halls and library facilities, and the neighbouring Nederlandsche Bank (the Dutch national bank) can use the facilities, too.
The interior arrangement is flexible, parts can be closed off or interconnected as desired. All these possibilities and the collaboration of many different institutions make it a centre where different people and different (social) cultures meet.

Another part of Amfora Amstel contains a major shopping centre, sport facilities and other public facilities.

Sustainable Amstel

The fact that it is an underground facility creates many environmental possibilities. Isolation is no problem, while the warmth of the location can be used for among others heating and cooling of Amfora Amstel. Public transport in the area gets a boost because different modes of transport and different lines will be interconnected.


Accessibility is crucial to the plan. Such a large cultural centre attracts a lot of traffic, which should preferably be handled by public transport. Amfora Amstel is the perfect hub, connecting the North-South metro line (presently being built) with the existing metro network. Furthermore, the Amstel will no longer be a dividing river but a connecting area.

While Amfora Amstel creates chances for new public transport connections, the problem of car traffic and especially parking on the streets is being tackled, too. The three lowest floors are used as parking spaces, freeing the surrounding area of cars. Small garages can be turned into shops and restaurants. The result is an open, quiet, yet very lively and attractive area.

Winner of the MIPIM Future Projects Award for Big Urban Projects 2010.

Project: #453