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 the architectural office 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 and neglected 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.
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.
Light and wood accents
The west tunnel will also be extensively redesigned following the central tunnel as a model. The dark, edgy metal design from the eighties will give way to more flowing forms, brighter colours and boards of wooden slats in the stairways. One of the most congested places in the station is the junction where the west tunnel gives access to platforms 1 and 2 and joins the old Cuypers building. This part will also be completely redesigned to create space and improve the flow of pedestrian traffic. In the end, a traveller arriving at Amsterdam Central Station will experience more coherence and overview, entering a lighter and more pleasant space and at the same time being offered an experience consisting of the materials, the design and the beauty of this monumental building.
Lead architect: ZJA
Restoration architect: Braaksma & Roos Architectenbureau
Cost engineering: IGG