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The architectural vision behind Zuidasdok

Zuidas is known for its buildings designed by famous architects, such as Winy Maas (Valley) or Rem Koolhaas (nhow Amsterdam RAI Hotel). What is less well-known is the fact that an architectural vision lies behind our plans to regenerate the infrastructure. Zuidasdok is renovating Amsterdam Zuid station and widening the A10 Zuid and diverting part of it into a tunnel. From the De Nieuwe Meer interchange to the Amstel interchange, architects have put their minds to what it should ultimately look like.

Green and tranquil

Three architects’ firms have been closely involved from the outset: architectenbureau ZJA, Team V Architectuur and BoschSlabbers Landschapsarchitecten. The designers’ brief was to introduce as much greenery and tranquillity as possible into an environment characterised by crowds, noise, concrete and traffic. They sought inspiration in the history of the area. Anyone standing in the Zuidelijke Wandelweg in the 1950s who looked in a northerly direction would have seen the early signs of Beethovenstraat, Parnassusweg and Europaboulevard. In the distance was Rivierenlaan, renamed President Kennedylaan in 1964. The area itself was the realm of sports fields, allotments and other leisure activities. But everything changed with the arrival of Prinses Irenebuurt, Buitenveldert and ultimately the area between them: Zuidas. The Zuidelijke Wandelweg was mostly absorbed in the embankment where a road and railway track were built (a small section of the Zuidelijke Wandelweg still exists however, in the Kop Zuidas neighbourhood).

Parnassusweg-Zuidelijke Wandelweg junction in 1958

Increase in mobility

Now, several decades on, the region is bursting at the seams. The number of jobs in the area is expected to increase by 300,000 by 2030 (up around 25% compared to now) and the number of inhabitants by 240,000 (growth of about 20%). All of this is resulting in a huge increase in mobility. Zuidasdok is ultimately intended to ensure that not only Zuidas, but the entire region can remain accessible. This will be achieved by making Amsterdam Zuid station Amsterdam’s second station and widening the A10 from 4 to 6 lanes in both directions.

Pleasant area to spend time in

With the old Zuidelijke Wandelweg in their minds, the architects combined improving access to Zuidas and the northern Randstad with the addition of around 120,000 sq. m. of attractive space in which to spend time. The tunnels in which the A10 Zuid will disappear at the heart of Zuidas are set to make a major contribution to that. Especially on the north side of the station (next to Zuidplein), the design envisages a large urban square that merges into a green, terrace-like zone. There will also be more green areas on the south side of the station (next to Mahlerplein), although space will also need to be created here for two additional railway tracks.

Plenty of additional green space on the north side (left) of the station

Breaking down the barrier

A second key design challenge involved combining the expansion of the infrastructure with the removal of the barrier that divides Zuidas into two. Everyone agreed that the A10 constituted the most important barrier preventing the development of Zuidas. This is what prompted the decision to divert the A10 into a tunnel, freeing up a kilometre wide area of space next to Amsterdam Zuid station. The refurbished station entrance – the Minervapassage – is set to play an important role in connecting with the neighbourhood. It will be 40 m in width, enabling Zuidplein and Mahlerplein to flow seamlessly into each other. This passageway will also be a pleasant place, with plenty of natural daylight, shops and other amenities. Amsterdam Zuid will also have a second passageway, between Parnassusweg and Minervapassage. The infrastructural barrier is also being broken in the area around Amsterdam RAI: Vivaldipassage will soon connect Antonio Vivaldistraat on the south side of Beatrixpark on the north side.

The refurbished Minervapassage breaks down the barrier between the two parts of Zuidas

Surrounded by green

Finally, the A10 Zuid. Ultimately, this will also be surrounded by green – from De Nieuwe Meer in the west to the Amstel interchange in the east. In the design, both sides of the motorway tunnel will be flanked by as many green embankments and planted noise barriers as possible, enabling the exits and access roads to disappear amid the green landscape. The result will be one consecutive area of greenery and plants that connects the Nieuwe Meer and the Amsterdamse Bos in the west with the Amstelscheg in the east.

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