The new bicycle parking facility under the Open Havenfront at CS has set a new architectural and logistical standard, says architecture expert Jaap Huisman. The parking, which is accessible via a rolling ramp, can accommodate 7,000 bicycles from 26 January – only cargo bicycles, scooters and electric bicycles have not been thought of.
This article comes from Het Parool. Every day a selection of the best articles from the newspapers and magazines appears on NU.nl. You can read more about that here.
Both above and below ground, the new bicycle parking facility in the Open Havenfront in front of Amsterdam Central Station is a marvel: logistically, architecturally and spatially. The fact that 7000 bicycles fit in it has not yet been shown for Amsterdam. The fact that it is also a surprisingly light space means a break with the dark, messy parking facilities of the past. A new standard has been set.
A tapis-roulant, a lazy escalator without steps, leads to an immense hall with mushroom-shaped columns. LED lights at those columns indicate where there is and where there is no space to park the bicycle. The parking facilities under Beursplein and Kleine-Gartmanplantsoen could also have used such a moving ramp. The lazy stairs there are not exactly the easiest accesses to walk on. So there is progress in the parking design.
The Rotterdam agency Wurck, which is responsible for this underwater parking facility, has delivered a few surprises. To begin with, these are the round illuminated recesses in the ceiling (called oculi) through which the history of water is depicted with the help of the Amsterdam Museum.
On the wall on the side of the Prins Hendrikkade, a wall artwork stretches almost 50 meters long with pixels from photos from the museum, which together show the growth of Amsterdam. Daylight pours in on the descent via the tapis-roulant, you can see the pedestrians strolling on the quay. The light hall with the high windows offers a new panorama of the former Kadaster building, now the Art’otel.
Two wall sculptures by the artist Lex Horn, which were left over from the Swammerdam Institute, have been placed on the Central Station side. As if the black-white-grey reliefs were made for the parking, they fit in here.
The immense hall of the new parking facility has room for 7,000 bicycles. Photo: Eva Plevier
And the surprises are not over yet: from the parking, cyclists can walk dry and sheltered through a tunnel to the metro and station hall. There, too, daylight enters through a recess in the concrete. How comfortable do you want it?
That comfort includes a new, fast way of checking in with a bicycle tag, a label that is attached to the bicycle, so that you can park the bicycle without a public transport chip card and bank card. This label is also valid in the other new parking facilities near the centre. There is also a dynamic information board that indicates how many and where places are still available.
What was a hopeless construction site for years, surrounded by fences and construction sheds, has suddenly changed into a pimped-up Open Havenfront. The public space has been given a Barcelona allure. Wide quays covered with natural stone surround the basin, the tour boats of Lovers are moored at wooden jetties. It is almost unbelievable that city buses docked at that spot and car traffic whizzed by. The master plan of De Entree promises that more trees will be planted along the edges – it is still bare and stony at the moment.
There is not only progress in the architecture of parking facilities, but also in the decoration of the public space. Finally there is a decent integration of the top and subsoil, of water and pavement. This is also the case at the Kleine-Gartmanplantsoen and the Beursplein, where the entrances to the parking facilities rise so smoothly from the ground level that you can forget about parking your bicycle on the street.
Wurck has experience with these types of complex assignments. They operate on the cutting edge of urban planning and infrastructure. Their portfolio includes pedestrian tunnels and bridges, an ecoduct, a station square and a park. In 2018, they designed two bicycle parking garages at the De Pijp metro stop that are accessible from Ceintuurbaan and Eerste Jan van der Heijdenstraat. Just like with CS, the goal is to get the bike off the ground as much as possible.
We are not there yet with those 7000 parking places – to be used from 26 January – under the Open Havenfront. On the north side of the station, an elongated parking facility will open under the IJ (schedule mid-February), designed by VenhoevenCS, with space for 4000 bicycles. It is a difficult space because it is elongated and therefore has two entrances and exits at the head. VenhoevenCS designed a column-free space of 230 meters long on top of the metro tube, with a boulevard on the roof. Daylight penetrates through the ceiling into the shed.
The special feature of the construction is that all building elements and concrete barges are manufactured elsewhere in the port and are assembled on site on a floating slab. This way shipping can continue unimpeded.
The crux of a successful underground parking facility is that the cyclist must be tempted to descend. That shouldn’t be that difficult at either garage. The hall on the west side of the parking facility under the Open Havenfront is so spacious and so tastefully designed that the descent need not be an obstacle. You can only fear that the quays around are inviting for backpackers in the summer, too inviting. Enforcement is again a keyword in this case to prevent misuse of space.
With the bicycle parking facilities, another chapter of the Amsterdam Central junction has been closed – until the station itself is addressed again. The army proves how necessary these facilities are with bicycles that only seem to be increasing at the bicycle flat and on the IJ side. It will be quite a job to cut it loose and dispose of it.
There is only one exception to all the cheering: there is no room for cargo bikes and scooters in the new parking facility, and the electric bicycle cannot be charged. This was not yet an issue when the parking facility was put out to tender in 2016.
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