A monument as traffic hub
Buildings too can have family ties. Amsterdam Central station is the everyday, practical little sister of the grand and art-minded lady that is Het Rijksmuseum. They resemble each other a lot, sharing the same father. Pierre Cuypers contemplated building two new gates as an entrance to the city, the railway station in the north, the museum in the south. Besides being a monument to the industrial renaissance of the city in the late 1800s, the station is a traffic hub of still growing importance. In the years to come train traffic and other forms of public transport will grow so much, that despite the recent modernizations, the station will have to be prepared for the future yet again.
The renovation of Amsterdam Central station in which architectural studio ZJA collaborates with Braaksma & Roos Architectenbureau and IGG, has two objectives. The first objective is the creation of space and visual coherence. To accommodate the more frequent transport of larger groups of travellers, the platforms have to be widened. That makes complex interventions necessary, such as the relocation of the stairways. An accidental perk comes with the chance to reveal the characteristic foundations of the historical beams of the steel roof. The qualities of the roof L.J. Eijmers built in 1889 and the second roof, added in 1922, will be made visible and brought much closer to the travellers. This design does not emphasize added architecture, but first and foremost creates space, re-arranges what is there and gives it coherence. The narrow east tunnel will be widened and re-designed using the new middle tunnel as an example. This will create a flowing connection to the old Cuypers building.
With the relocation of the stairs and escalators, the west tunnel will be rebuilt on the model of the middle tunnel. The dark, angular, metal-dominated design of the 1980s will make way for light colours and accents at the stairs. One of the busiest points in the station is the junction where the west tunnel gives access to platforms 1 and 2 and passengers enter the old Cuypers building. This part of the station will also be completely rearranged to make more room and improve the flow of pedestrian traffic.
Bringing back beauty
The second objective is to reveal even more beauty of the monumental building by peeling away the adaptations and additions from the second half of the 20th century. A lot of restoration has already been carried out, but not all the beauty of the monument is yet made visible. In the first place this applies to the old front facade, where the masonry work of the arches will be made visible again, and restored there where they have disappeared.
Cohesion and layout
The result of the overall intervention is that passengers at Amsterdam Central Station experience more cohesion and a clearer layout, enter a lighter and more pleasant space, and at the same time are offered an experience of the materials, architecture and beauty of the historic building.
Lead architect: ZJA
Restoration architect: Braaksma & Roos Architectenbureau
Cost engineering: IGG
Year: 2017 - Present