Along the water
Just west of Amsterdam’s Central Station a new extension of Amsterdam is being built. Of the three Houthavens (Timberdocks), the middle one is being transformed into a residential area. The Pontsteiger building is the 90-meter high icon that functions as the landmark of this development. It is a robust, square building towering above the water in a bend of the river IJ. A dam connects the building to the Tasmanstraat. The entrance to the two underground parking garages is also to be found on this dam. One garage serves the residents and users of the Pontsteiger building, the other one is a municipal parking with a capacity of 277 cars for permit holders in the Tasman neighbourhood. This one, the Pontsteiger parking garage, is the one the architectural office ZJA designed in collaboration with Arons en Gelauff Architecten.
Clear and safe
In the stairwell of the entrance buildings mirrors are incorporated like in a periscope, guiding extra daylight into the parking garage and offering a surprising view. The most pleasant parking garages to visit are those where entrance and exit are quickly recognizable and where there are no dark corners. In this design this is being taken care of by assuring even lighting, the white walls and the clear arrangement. This creates a feeling of spaciousness and with the white ceilings only showing the sprinkler system, an optimal overview of the parking garage is achieved. This is further accommodated by the carefully designed way finding with curved and friendly lines. The preferred colour for this is ‘signal blue’, a colour that has a history in Amsterdam as being the colour of municipal services and institutions.
The city and its history
To give this parking garage an identity two big murals are painted on the walls in the same blue colour. Made in a contemporary style, referring to graffiti or comic books, we see two images that bring back parts of local history. One consists of an image of the facades of houses from the social housing project by the architects of the famous Amsterdamse School from the thirties, still existent right across the street in the Spaardam neighbourhood. The other image is based on a photograph from the twenties in the previous century, of activities in the timber dock, when ships from Scandinavia, Poland and Russia unloaded their cargo. These sober images recall the history of the city and the many people who worked and lived there. They provide a monument that embodies the past and an image of the fleeting lives and disappeared industry that defined the cityscape for so long at this location along the IJ river.
Client: Municipality of Amsterdam
Principal: Consortium Dura Vermeer - De Nijs
Architects: ZJA, Arons en Gelauff Architecten