Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wiel Arets Architects Win 1st Prize for the IJhal in Amsterdam

Dutch practice Wiel Arets Architects has been named winner in the competition for the IJhal in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The IJhal will be Amsterdam Centraal Station’s pedestrian centric area for gastronomic, retail and leisure facilities, for passengers and city residents alike.
Project Description:
Amsterdam’s Centraal Station is currently undergoing a drastic transformation to become the centrepiece of the city’s plan to reconnect neighbourhood clusters through the restructuring of its public transportation systems. The IJhal, to be located in the rear of Amsterdam’s Centraal Station, on the waterfront of the river IJ, will be the main pedestrian centric portion of the renewed station, adding gastronomic, leisure and service areas to the station’s program.

Historically, the neighbourhood of Amsterdam North has been separated from the rest of the city by the river IJ. With the opening of the IJhal at Centraal Station – and later, the North-South Metro line that will travel under the IJ and physically connect Amsterdam North with the rest of the city – this barrier will be broken down. 
Currently two pedestrian halls are open inside Centraal Station, which will be replaced by five halls that run through the station, helping to easily direct users from the front entrance to their train, metro, or bus – and strengthen the connection made by the North-South Metro. This perpendicular routing to the river IJ will enable a direct visual connection to the waterfront from most areas inside the station. Within the IJhal various gastronomic outlets will be available for food on the go, while restaurants and cafes will also be incorporated to encourage prolonged station visits. All gastronomic facilities will be located on the waterfront edge of the IJhal, to encourage the utilization of the station beyond a transportation hub, and into a destination itself.

A system of round-mirrored elements composed of a stainless steel type surface will be mounted on the ceiling, mimicking the reflective properties of the IJ’s waters within the IJhal. These elements will serve to visually double the height of the space. Below the new bus terminal at the rear of the station, above the IJhal, voids will be located alongside stairs and escalators – containing hanging gardens – that will visually connect the bus terminal above with the IJhal below.

The floor of the IJhal will function as an abstracted way finding system composed of a terrazzo like finish of polished circles, which will condense and expand in accordance with pedestrian traffic patterns and when perpendicular paths occur. This subtle shift of floor pattern will help to keep pedestrians in constant motion during intersections, serving to keep the station’s halls free of unnecessary congestion.

The waterfront behind Centraal Sation is not currently developed for public functions. As the surrounding neighbourhoods on the IJ’s waterfront continue to develop, more public venues in the area are beginning to appear. The Piet Heinkade corridor, which follows the IJ to the east of Centraal Station, has been revitalized by the conversion of former warehouses into residential housing, alongside the recently completed ‘Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ’ and the adjacent port for visiting cruise ships. Multiple cafes, restaurants and hotels – as well as the renewal of the KNSM Island into a residential district in the late 1990’s – has further propelled these waterfront developments. A tram line running from Central Station, along Piet Heinkade and towards the new housing area of IJburg in the east of the city, acts as an axis to connect these districts. On the western waterfront of the IJ, the recently completed ‘Westerdoks’ have added a new residential district to the city, in turn adding more housing, cafes and shops to the city’s waterfront.

The exterior of the IJhal facing the waterfront will utilize a printed glass facade, further incorporating the transparent and reflective qualities of the IJ to the IJhal. This will ensure that a visual connection with the IJ can be maintained from within the hall at all times. Alongside the waterfront will be an outdoor area with tables and seating for the various cafes and restaurants, where travellers and citizens of the city alike will be able to relax and enjoy the city’s rediscovered waterfront. Docks alongside this outdoor area will be able to accommodate multiple functions, such as the mooring of recreational boats, or possibly play host to a floating swimming pool in the IJ; possibilities for recreational facilities are limitless.
Project Data:
Type: Gastronomic, Retail, Leisure and Service Facilities
Location: Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Date of Design: 2010
Budget: Undisclosed
Client: NS Poort Ontwikkeling B.V.
Design Team: Wiel Arets, Bettina Kraus, Bruno Ebersbach, Joana Varela, Rob Willemse, Ramon Alvarez Roa, Ole Hallier, Nikolas von Schwabe, Janosch Welzien, Steffen Winkler


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