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Kraaiennest Metro Station

Transport Building in The Netherlands – design by Maccreanor Lavington

20 Jun 2014

Kraaiennest Metro Station in Amsterdam

Design: Maccreanor Lavington

Located in the still bleak Bijlmermeer Neighbourhood – the vast area of mass social housing developed in the 1960s and 1970s to the south-east of Amsterdam, now undergoing a welcome and long overdue programme of regeneration and enhancement – the Kraaiennest Metro Station is the penultimate station on Line 53 of the City’s Metro system that runs between Central Station and Gaasperplas – opened in 1977 and serving fourteen stations – mostly above ground – to the south and south-east of the city.


The new station replaces the original, very basic and architecturally uninspired station located on the north-west side of Karspeldreef close to the junction with Kruitberg. Its modest realignment to the north-west of the site of the original station is related to the massive changes to the infrastructure of the area which involved the removal of the low viaducts carrying the elevated main roads above the surrounding urban areas, the lowering of the roads to ground level and the establishment of coherent street frontages and the creation of potentially attractive urban spaces. The station remained open and accessible throughout the refurbishment and the works were carried out in 3 phases; first the construction of the extended platforms followed by the sequenced renovation in two stages of the existing platforms and hall, followed by the removal of redundant platform.


For all the positive changes taking place in the area, the urban context of the new station is still inhospitable – not helped by the massively scaled and heroically detailed reinforced- concrete viaduct on which the Metro runs north-west to south-west across the area. Into this demanding setting, the architects have introduced a well-considered new station – basic in concept and in its provision of facilities that would normally be integrated into a new station on a similar metro system elsewhere in Europe.

At ground level, the entrance area, the automated passenger barriers, the glazed lift-shaft, the three escalators that serve platform level (and the off-white tile-clad concrete walls in which they rise) and ancillary technical accommodation, are contained in a lofty, robustly detailed enclosure, transformed from the mere prosaic by the use of beautifully crafted, full-height panels of thick, laser-cut stainless-steel sheet – the decorative pattern recalling but not replicating the perforated screens that characterise so much Islamic architecture – not entirely inappropriate in this context, given the presence of a large mosque close by – but with a strong functional justification given the need to avoid the use of large areas of glass due to vandalism.


The patterning of the steel panels was developed by the architects based on a repeated baroque motif that evokes the non-secular without straying into the realms of religious imagery. The area has reportedly changed from being largely agnostic in the ‘70’s to being strongly multi-faith today through the large immigrant population.
A similar, but smaller robustly detailed enclosure some distance from the main enclosure, contains an emergency staircase linking the platform at its north-west end to ground level. This houses the escape stair from the end of the platform and electrical switching equipment. All have been cleverly enclosed to leave a secure perimeter zone between enclosure and screen to allow consistent lighting at night-time, when the building skin appears to work like a lantern. We did not stay until dusk but one could see that this detail would be important to make the lighting effect function.

At platform level, high above the surrounding area and clearly visible from the surrounding urban spaces, is the principal architectural feature of the station – the new canopy that runs along its entire length without break. The architects have deliberately adopted a deep and visually heavy design, in contrast to the thin, utilitarian, cantilevered canopies of the former station, and intended to relate to the monumental concrete viaduct on which the platform sits. The soffit of the canopy is finished in dark red panels and the entire structure is supported on slender, black-painted, circular columns. The canopy is some 1.2m deep and is wrapped in the same stainless steel panelling as the entrances, effectively tying the composition together form a distance.


The parapets around the top of the escalators are crisply finished in off-white tile-work – remarkably free of graffiti, topped by an elegantly detailed stainless-steel rail. Other than the three modestly-scaled, glazed, wind-screened enclosures containing minimal seating and the glazed enclosure to the lift-shaft, the platform is free of any other features or functions and without any means of protection from the wind.

The new station provides a robust, well-considered and impeccably detailed architectural solution to the development of a new transport facility in an essentially inhospitable urban setting. There appears to be a serious issue with graffiti in the area and few surfaces are untouched, except the surfaces of the new station which seem to be being left alone.

The architect confirmed that there was no sustainability brief or agenda associated with the project and none of the areas are heated, cooled or mechanically ventilated. The escalators use energy saving user-sensing controls and the lighting generally appeared to be low energy sources controlled on daylight sensors so will be reasonably efficient. This would be the minimum that would be expected of a modern building.


However, anomalously, and no fault of the architects, the station lacks those features normally expected in the new stations on any Metro system across Europe – in particular, clearly recognisable signing and ‘branding’ at both ground and platform levels – which, in most other Metro systems, are seen as essential pre-requisites to encouraging and promoting use by the public and celebrating the crucial role of public transport in cities today. What signing is provided is minimal and largely illegible when seen from any distance. This was a characteristic of all of the stations on the network however and it would be fair to say that the jury were underwhelmed by the branding of the Metro system.

Also absent, anomalously, is the considered integration of any commercial advertising at either entrance or platform levels and any modest retail-kiosk facilities to meet the needs of waiting passengers. The complete lack of advertising hoardings on the very large walls enclosing the long escalator ride was almost a shock to the system.
However, it must be stressed that the architects are in no way responsible for these “omissions” and they have been very successful with the design and execution of this modest but heavily used station for enhancing and cheering-up the environment of this deprived part of Town.
We are recommending that the project be considered for a RIBA European Award.

Bijlmer Arena Station Amsterdam – Building Information

Architect: Maccreanor Lavington
Client: Dienst infrastructuur Verkeer Vervoer, GVB, Stadsdeel Zuidoost
Contractor: Strukton Bouw
Structural Engineer: Ingenieursbureau Amsterdam
Services Engineer: Arcadis
Contract Value: 14000000 euros
Date of completion: June 2013

Photography: Luuk Kramer


Maccreanor Lavington

Location:Bijlmermeer, Amsterdam

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