In recent decades the Eastern harbor area in Amsterdam has seen some massive changes. Industries that once were related to transport over water declined or moved elsewhere. Warehouses stood empty or were invaded by squatters. A joint effort by the City and private developers has successfully infused the area with new life.
The central artery between railroads and remaining quays now is lined with new and old buildings - residential, commercial and public. Like a freight train loaded with different kinds of cargo stowed in similar cars, a line of cubic buildings faces the real railroad at the other side of the road. The head of this procession, facing Central Station, consists of three public buildings: the Passenger Terminal, a hotel and a concert hall. A deck, 35 feet above water level, links those three attractions.
Great care has been taken in designing public open space to support new architecture and blend it in with the old. Equally important is providing a safe and comfortable connection for pedestrians and cyclists between this newly developed area and the city center nearby.
Three existing adjacent overpasses for trains, trams and cars make it physically possible to pass this barrier without getting run over. Encouraging public use is another matter. To achieve that, all superfluous additions have been peeled away. What remains is one vast empty space that is graced by a shiny concrete floor. Hundreds of lights shine up, cleverly adjusted for night and daytime. It has become an outside ball room floor.
An old part of the harbour that was filled in makes a come-back as a marina for canal buses. Passengers arriving by cruise ship enjoy an easy transfer from one type of boat to another.
Hovering over this new body of water is a 200 foot long bridge to the entrance of the concert hall. It resembles a gangplank of a steamer. Steel vertebra are suspended from below to allow a maximum view above.
A terrace connects the restaurant of the concert hall with the sunset. Wood on the deck is a continuation of the floor inside.
City of Amsterdam
Hans van de Made
Hans van Heeswijk
Simon van Wijnen
Emilio Troncoso Larrain
Michael van Gessel