Copyright 2010
Built with Indexhibit

City Distribution Amsterdam: Evolution of an infrastructural landscape

2010 – Graduationproject, Technische Universiteit Eindhoven.

The project comes forth of the graduation studio ‘De rede van Amsterdam’. This is the third studio in a series of three which study the development of Amsterdam by highlighting one subject by the means of a physical excision of the city. This third studio was about the development of Amsterdam as a water city.

Motive and assignment:
This specific graduation project starts with the statement that between the city center and the Oostelijke handelskade an infrastructural bundle is present, which has an important position and function in the city, but also has a lot of informal and marginal space. From this statement, the dissertation of Robert Cavallo, ‘Railways in the urban context, an architectural discourse’ and a critical review of this work comes the assignment to study the relation between architecture and infrastructure. In the dissertation the railway and her buildings are described as a series of architectonical elements and in a masterplan they are treated as a margin that’s withdrawn from the city. This results in packing and harmonizing the bundle. In contrary this project wants to take the infrastructural function and history of the bundle as her initial concept. The research is done by the means of a study into the disappeared typology of distribution, storage and trans-shipment in the former eastern harbor district in Amsterdam, where the infrastructural bundle is situated. After this, a contemporary form of this typology is used for an intervention in this bundle.

On the basis of four defined historical periods and four exemplary buildings and their position in the network and the city, the research discusses the development of the typology as well as the infrastructural bundle itself. From this research is concluded that the current bundle derives from a evolution of a infrastructural landscape from the wooden anchorage, trough the construction of the dike to the present situation of the ‘Oostelijke handelskade’ and the railway-embankment. The studied buildings describe an image of a typology that moves from a building as part of the urban (architectonic) mass to an explicit part of the infrastructural works of engineers. De architecture follows this development, and her expression derives more and more from these infrastructural works of engineers.

The design intervention searches for a way to transform the bundle from her history as a vein of the city by taking a next step in the evolution of this infrastructural landscape. From the function of the bundle, the aim of the design is to let it again be a connecting element between the different scales of the city, and trough this embedding it in the urban context. Hereby an architectural language is sought for, that stresses the character of the bundle as a work of engineering as well as fitting it in the city.

The base of the design intervention is the insertion of the city distribution, a contemporary distribution function for the city itself. Here goods for the city centre are delivered and stored. Subsequently they are bundled and transported durable into the city by electrical boats and vehicles. This function is a direct connection between regional and local networks. Besides this, the bundle is embedded by intertwining this function with a slow traffic connection and a public recreational waterfront for the city. At the other side the major road is reformed to an urban, formal boulevard.

With the architecture in this project, the complex program is translated into- and captured in a clear and sober expression, which reverts to her character as an infrastructural landscape and work of engineering and at the same time complies with the scale of her context. It results in a design that clearly derives from the dynamic character of the infrastructural landscape and from this dedicates itself as a connecting element in the infrastructural network of the city trough multiple scales.

prof. dr. Bernard Colenbrander
prof. dipl-ing. Christian Rapp
prof. dr. ir. Pieter van Wesemael

Dutch text and images HERE