RENEWAL OF MUIDERPOORT STATION, AMSTERDAM

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Thesis

station(e)scape

Compared to other transportation nodes, the vicinity of Amsterdam Muiderpoort station has remained rather underrated, despite of its historic significance and potentials. In result of transportation-oriented developments and urban renewal through 1900’s, the area went through a rapid growth of residential blocks, which apparently lacks the idea of “community” as a whole. Each block is distinguished by its own characteristics in terms of building typologies, and cultural backgrounds of the residents. Among the features that the community is missing is a public domain that can be shared and embraced by varying neighborhoods, for which the Amsterdam Muiderpoort station is found with good potentials in consideration of its location and given conditions. By regenerating the trianglular site engulfed by railways around the Muiderpoort station, the neighboring communities would be given a new public domain with cultural facilities. The new architectural inventions are designed to provide a inspiring escape for the commuters who visit the area on a regular base, and the inventions also should present a set of new “scapes” of the station area, both within and around. As much as the new buildings are dedicated to defining the parameter of the newly introduced public domain, they are meant to explicitly present the programmes held within the space, and reach to the passersby beyond the railways. The station will grant new scapes, where people may come and stay for an everyday escape.

Site

Amsterdam Muiderpoort station area

Program

Community library / Workshops for local people

 

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Urban design concept

Left over of the Left Over

Along with the restoration process of the infrastructure, the neighboring areas began to adapt to the changes of the surrounding. Within the border line set by the elevated dikes, a number of housing blocks were built and new communities came to find their home. As the urban development for fragmented area within the Over Amstelse Polder was proceeding, there became newly born left over spaces in different locations. Where the rectangular city blocks met the railway drawing a curve or splitting into two directions, triangular shaped sites were gained, and it took a few more years for those sectors to be given proper gesture in order to develop. As the curvy edge of the railway runs close to straight edge line of the newly built residential blocks, the triangular left over spaces became to have unique characteristics compared to their neighboring blocks. It was not only the configuration of the site that was distinguished, but the site was also born with distinctive characters as a between space from the very beginning, geographically located in the middle of multiple different communities. It was not until early 60’s when proposals began to be realized for the sites on each corner. As a result, the left over sites turned out to be recognized from the urban fabric around with different building typology, density, and programme.
When looking closely at each of this site, a certain characteristics are found interesting. The border conditions that defines the area slightly differ from each other, and so the building use and spatial qualities. Facing the Wibautstraat, mixed use complex of housings and office spaces had been built. On the upper East side of the polder, a linear residential building is recognized in its effort to make the best use out of the site particular configuration. Unlike other housing buildings that provide private backyard for the residents in their enclosed garden, the linear residential is buffered by semi public green all the way around. The Amsterdam Muiderpoort train station area is among the left over sites, where the station used to make an important landmark at the end of a small community of residential blocks that had filled up the site. Compared to other left over spaces in the region, the Muiderpoort site is characterized with the fact that it is engulfed by infrastructure on two sides. It is only to the South that allows an access to the neighboring community without having to go through an under path. With the splitting railways structure rising up to 7 meters high above the ground, the visual connection to the surrounding is very limited when standing inside the site. The programme was initially to house a monumental square for the train station that found its home on the site in 1939. The municipality’s vision for the train station seemed to have gone through varying complications caused by simultaneous development of public transportation in the area. The formal entrance to the platform had to move several times, while the station building was brought down to the enclosed site from above the railway. Having gone through a series of renovation process, the monumentality of the Amsterdam Muiderpoort station has grown rather weaker than stronger. Before the station building ever gained a chance to fulfill the projected vision as a monumental landmark in the neighborhood, the train system has advanced so far that the station reached a point when it no longer need a physical space anymore. In result the train station turned into a bike repair shop, and the walkway that used to lead to the platform had to be closed and provide storages spaces for bikes in stock.

 

Urban design strategy

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centrality

One of the most prevailing characteristics of the existing site is its locale. Dapperbuurt to the West, Indischebuurt on the East, and Oostpoort towards the South all share the Amsterdam Muiderpoort station area. The border lines of each neighborhood are defined by the railway running through the area. Instead of having to forcefully bring the ground level circulation into the site via manipulated accesses or turnarounds, the site has to be sufficient and confident with its own configurations and functions. By combining the new programme and the historic building facilities, the station area should and can be strengthened with new centrality. The site would be cultivated as a main gathering space shared by visitors from different neighborhoods. The new public facilities can take a full advantage of this well geared accessibility, and attract more visitors.

 

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monumentality

The train station building already well conveys a historical significance with its brick load bearing wall structure and glass facades, which are good indications for the heydays of the architecture types. The railway structure sits on the site in such way that the focal point is naturally drawn to the station. When the station was moved from the upper dike down to the ground, the initial vision was to present a grand plaza where the visitors would have an impression of authority of the municipality. The lost monumentality may be regained by cherishing the existing, through which the new public space can be architecturally equipped with a new identity. The dramatic perspective may draw positive effects for the reputation and monumentality of the new square, which can become a fair starting point of the urban regeneration of the region.

 

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frontality

The performance level of a public domain tends to depend on how the domain is related to its surroundings. One can tell by standing at a public square; where the most people enter through, which direction the square is oriented to, which side works as the most important backdrop for the space, and which object the square is focused at. It is critical for a public space to provide an landmark with a strong sense of frontality in such that the visitors may easily learn about what the space is meant to represent. Given the fact that the station building and splitting railways are the most dominant features on the site, reconfiguration of frontality should be speculated. If the station building successfully manages to present its facade towards the main crowd on the ground level of the square, two platforms above the railways have their own target group; the platform users. By providing new facades adjacent to the railway structure the commuters on each platform will be given better opportunities to appreciate and understand the identity of new public domain.

 

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continuity

The public domain has to be exposed to the public as much as possible in a way to present its existence and the activities happening inside. One of the important potentials about the site is that it is exposed to different speeds of traffic. Train riders, tram riders, commuters on their bike, pedestrian passersby, and those who have to sit and stay for a few minutes on the platform would all get certain amount of time to take a look at the square. Their expectation for the square may vary, and so does the impressions they gain out of it. However long or short they visit at site, the new public space should be able to respond to the varying traffics and interact with the visitors. If the backside of the station building opens up towards the Insulindeweg, the flow is likely to improve every direction around the site.

 

Building design

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Building typology

In order to interact with the train riders and platform users as well as possible, the building is designed in a way to expose itself at a maximum rate within the existing environments. Adjacent to the curved infrastructure, the building’s original forms are born linear as the tangent lines on the parameter of the square. The existence and identity of the triangular square is now better recognized with new facades of the surrounding. The building responds to varying viewers along the level changes; facing the railway and platform the buidling becomes the most transparent on the first floor, and the upper floors are rather introverted, solid, and guarded. The weight of the upper volume presses down and highlights the platform level. The ground level facades are mindful of the pedestrians on the square, which is reflected on the overall building mass. The ground floors take liberty to change and twig in order to provide a well defined parameter of the public domain, which resulted in a number of variables of form.

 

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Visual connections

With a wide range of different traffics on different levels around the site in mind, the new architectural invention is designed to interact in varying ways, taking a full advantage of its degree of exposure. The platform level floor is oriented towards the railway station so that the activities and programme inside the building can be well presented to the commuters. On the ground level, buildings face the square and each other, creating the enclosed public domain with new sets of scapes. As the old and new thoroughly fabricates dynamic visual connections for the visitors in and around the site, the new public domain will become more inviting and welcoming, and further make a fair starting point where the urban regeneration evolves.

 

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Library

On the West side of the square lies a new public library closely facing the platform. The ground floor houses the career center targeting the students who go to the junior school nearby and a cafeteria for the library staffs and visitors. The first floor is completely dedicated to the reading room of the library so that there would be a clear contrast and interaction between the platform and the room across. With the trains passing by in between, the visual connection is continuously generated. Upper floors are repositories and adults collection where calmer and quieter spaces are provided. Compared to the first floor which opens widely to both sides of the surrounding, the upper floor is more guarded and closed only allowing thoroughly controlled lights and limited vistas.

The library building has adjust itself to the surroundings by presenting different facades. Towards the platform side the building allows rather controlled and guarded vista into the interior. The first floor opens up with vertical timber louvers which determins how much or what one would get to see depending on where you stand during waiting for train. Above the linear facade made of glass and timber on the first floor, a double heighted cast concrete facade presses down the builidng to the ground with its solid and heavy impression, allowing a few ocassional vertical openings along the lenth of the builidng. Towards the square side, the building appears to be rather light and crisp with its monolethic look achieved by rythmical play of vertical timbers and glass panels behind. The light portion of the other facade is brought here in order to create dynamic and playful backdrop of the square.

 

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Workshop

On the East side of the square lies a building that houses local artists’ worshops and studios. The ground floor serves the main lobby in the middle with an auditorium and a cafe at each end, which as a whole provides collective spaces where the programmes, exhibitions, and classes can be introduced and learned. The first floor is completely dedicated to the main exhibition hall. Once again the first floor exhibition hall is an open plan with the two service cores, achieving a clear contrast and interaction between the platform and the room across. Upper floors are for artists’ workshops and studios with a higher level of privacy and enclosedness. Compared to the library, the visual connection in the workshop building is controlled horizontally. Playfull juxtaposition of the solid poured concrete panels and transparent glass windows turns the vista on and off along the longitudinal axis of the building, which could be appreciated both from the platform and the square. Two short facades on each end carry on with the identical design language of the materials as the long ones, and the distinguished monolithic appearance of the building is thoroughly achieved.

The workshop building presents a constant look around it. The starting point is found on the first floor facing the platform, where the vista is horizontally controlled. Depending on where one stands, varying amount of interior views are provide. The building is made of one body of in-site concrete as a whole, which is resulted in controlled breaks on a line of  continuous solid wall in plans and sections. Compared to the library, the load-bearing structure, poured concrete, is exposed on the exterior as the most outer skin of the facade.  The building communicates with the viewers in a direct language.

 

 

 

 

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