The IJhal is a recently completed pedestrian passageway situated within Amsterdam’s central train station, on its the northern, waterside–which abuts the river it’s named for, the IJ.
The central station has been under continuous construction, for approximately the last decade, as the city spearheaded a total transformation of the original nineteenth century building, by expanding it below, above, and at its back, in order to accommodate the city’s growing population, and increasing number of annual tourists. A major portion of the station’s renovation and expansion is related to the soon to-be opened ‘North-South’ metro line–which is set to run along that axis of the city, and for the first time, enable one of the city’s metro lines to cross under the river IJ, at the back of the city’s train station. Amsterdam’s central train station is thus a confluence point for its many taxis, metro lines, trams, trains, and infinite cyclists, in addition to being a loading point for the IJ’s ferry-boat traffic; it is a major node of pedestrian and public transportation movement in Amsterdam.
Outfit with enormous LED screens, which continually transition their displays between voyeuristic, calming scenes of the city–and alternatively, advertising–and set with a golden-yellow-tan hued terrazzo floor; the multifaceted interior passage is meant to encourage constant pedestrian movement, and simultaneously remain durable under the foot traffic of tens of thousands of travelers each day. A system of modular, rounded mirrored elements adorns the IJhal’s ceiling, arranged in a playful grid that introduces a sense of movement to the ever-shifting reflections from below, communicating in tandem with the mirrors that wrap the passage’s load bearing poles, which dot the IJhal’s main axis. All of these mirrored elements cast the radiating, ever-undulating fluctuations of the IJ’s surface reflections in the IJhal so they refract into the adjacent passageways, in a nod to Amsterdam’s, historic, deeply intertwined relationship to water.
Shops align the IJhal’s southern edge, while strung along its northern is a series of restaurants; the latter’s situation within the project, along its water side, enables views toward the water of the IJ while dining, and the observation of a constant stream of cyclists passing by, on the new bike ‘highway’ that runs parallel to the river IJ. Staircases within rectangular voids connect the IJhal to the regional bus terminal above, with waves of winter-hearty, undulating ivy gardens, whose growth spills over and into the voids from above–introducing a gentle, natural element, within this highly chiseled, and otherwise extremely durable area, which must daily accommodate tens of thousands of travelers. Escalators below every bus staircase will eventually lead to the train station’s metro stop, and platforms for the North-South line, which runs under the station, perpendicular to the IJ; this metro will eventually the city’s visitors and residents to bypass its tram system and instead use this metro, if venturing south of the station toward the city.
Terrazzo, in addition to its use on the IJhal’s floor, was also chosen for the custom way-finding signage holders, and the many photo-booths that align the IJhal’s main pedestrian axis, enabling a visually cohesive language to emerge. Simultaneously, the signage of each shop and restaurant has been integrated into the walls of glass that front all such ‘interior’ spaces in the IJhal, with each lit from behind, further brining unity to this otherwise frantically busy location within the station. A series of secondary passageways perpendicular to the IJhal impart direct visual connections to the waterfront, throughout the entire station. Notions of transparency and reflection within the IJhal, seek to reestablish Amsterdam’s connection to its northern neighborhoods, which were severed from the city’s center, upon the train station’s completion, in 1889.
1012 AB Amsterdam
Date of design
Date of completion
Wiel Arets, Bettina Kraus, Freyke Hartemink, Joris van den Hoogen
Rob Willemse, Bruno Ebersbach, Joana Varela, Roel van der Zeeuw, Thorsten Schneider, Jochem Homminga, Ramon Alvarez Roa, Ole Hallier, Raymond van Sabben, Nikolas von Schwabe, Janosch Welzien, Steffen Winkler, Marco Leite Velho, Itziar Quiros
NS Poort Ontwikkeling BV
Deerns Raadgevende Ingenieurs BV