Impressive high-rise HQs, bathing in sunlight. Visited daily by tens of thousands. The Zuidas is the Dutch financial mile, an international premium location that forces you to a standstill. Literally, that is: in the daily traffic on the overloaded A10 Zuid motorway. Or on the packed platforms of Amsterdam Zuid railway station.
In the coming decade, this bustling area will change profoundly. Four new driving lanes will provide breathing room for motorists. Near the railway station, the motorway will dive below ground level, allowing the outdated railway station to spread its wings and upgrade to a major hub for all types of transport. And this without clogging residential areas surrounding it.
And so, in the future motorists will roll by, on a smoothly flowing ring road between spacious green corridors. Through an area that radiates unity, and in which every construction’s back is also a green front. Where instead of traffic jams, travellers at and around the railway station will enjoy a modern cityscape teeming with nature.
–Melanie Schultz van Haegen, former Minister of Infrastructure and Environment
The A10 is an elevated motorway. Right now, residents and visitors of the area need to go round it to get to the other side of their borough. Eliminating this barrier has been an important objective for our designers. And they have succeeded. In the future, the impressive ‘infra bundle’, of eight traffic lanes and four railroad tracks, will hardly be an impediment any more. A divided borough will be reunited. How it is done? By designing comfortable, recognizable underpasses for pedestrians and cyclists. And by integrating the motorway smoothly into its surroundings.
High-rise buildings dominate the Zuidas skyline. From above, crowded asphalt and railroads visibly pierce the heart of the area. Surrounding it, however, surprisingly spacious parklands allow for an escape. In the new situation, these parklands connect with the urban sections via a ‘green corridor’, running between traffic nodes Amstel and Nieuwe Meer. This continuous green zone injects nature into the city, and brings city dwellers into nature. Acacias, apple trees, flower meadows: nature will showcase itself throughout the year. A source of joy for all who pass through, and a stunning view for those above, in the lofty buildings or on the elevated squares and platforms.
How to bring calm, unity and transparency to a busy railway station, with all its functionalities and elements, both below and above ground? The answer: intelligently merging the incongruities in a multilevel cityscape. By carefully placing granite walls to create cohesion with the surrounding buildings. And by consistently landscaping slopes and walls with greenery, to absorb height differences and offer an attractive, natural atmosphere. The further away from the railway station, the greener it gets. A smooth flow from ‘stone’ to ‘shrub’.
For the new traffic lanes, many existing trees along the motorway must make way. And yes, for us as landscape architects, this is a bitter pill to swallow. To compensate, we have tried to design the Zuidasdok with as much green space as possible. Admittedly, trees are not replanted in quite the same numbers as before. Still, the 2.500 to 4.000 trees planted will be of a higher quality. To further boost the ecological value of the area, a wider variety of vegetation types will be introduced. The Zuidasdok will be home to shrubs, climbers, shore vegetation, flower meadows, ornamental grasses, herbaceous borders and flower bulbs.
Title: A10 ZuidasDok
Location: Amsterdam Zuid (traffic nodes Nieuwe Meer to Amstel)
Size: 150 ha, 6 km motorway upgrade, 1 km tunnel, renovation railway station Zuid
Client: Rijkswaterstaat, ProRail & municipality of Amsterdam
Contractor: consortium ZuidPlus (Fluor, HOCHTIEF, Heijmans)
Cooperation: Team V Architects, Zwart & Jansma Architects
Type: Tender, design vision, preliminary design (VO), final design (DO)
Prize/publication: World Architecture Festival WAF Awards 2018, nominatie Infrastructure
Image credits: BoschSlabbers, Zuidplus, A2Studio
Project code: HS 14-01