Noord-Zuidlijn

A new metro line and seven new stations under a historic canal city built on piles.

London has the oldest, Moscow the most flamboyant and Shanghai the longest… but where else in the world can you find a brand new metro line constructed just below the surface of an ancient and historic canal city built entirely on piles? Amsterdam of course! This is truly a phenomenal construction project without equal.

Before the new metro service was officially opened and the line was still being subjected to daily tests, I was given the opportunity to produce a series of photographs of the new North-South line’s seven metro stations, without the disruptions of the bustling public. The result is a futuristic-looking series that seeks to combine atmosphere and beauty and focuses less on achieving a realistic reproduction of this built environment under the ground. Still, the final representation succeeds in revealing the architecture and design of the stations, which sometimes merge seamlessly with the metro trains speeding by. The lights and colours of the trains are captured in the image as graphic elements and give an extra dimension to this representation of the unique North-South line project.

The municipality commissioned a study into the idea of a metro line between the north and south of Amsterdam in 1989. In 2002, many different scenarios and studies later, the municipal council gave the order to construct Line 52: the North-South line. This new metro line was intended to connect the north of the city and the new Zuidas (Southern Axis) to the city centre and the rest of the Amsterdam. Moreover, with the growing number of inhabitants and the exponential growth of tourists visiting the city, it had become necessary to relieve the pressure on the existing public transport network. The overcrowded buses and trams above ground were confronted with slow traffic and gridlocks. A metro network below the streets would not be affected by this congestion and would be able to transport many more people, safely and reliably. 

To ensure all these travellers could reach their destinations, it was decided to build seven new metro stations above and below the city. Two new stations were constructed on the north bank of the river ’t IJ: Noord and Noorderpark, both of them above ground. On the south bank, five underground stations were built: Central Station, Rokin, Vijzelgracht, De Pijp and Europaplein. All these stations were designed by Benthem Crouwel Architects.

Amsterdam is an old and historic city, built on mud, water and piles; not exactly the easiest conditions to carry out such a project. The plan to construct a tunnel and metro stations just under the surface of a busy city was unique, and the idea that it could be completed without any problems was clearly a utopian dream. However, on 22 June 2018, the North-South line was officially opened to the public. The fact that the project has been brought to a successful conclusion at all is a technical miracle that has rarely been seen before in the world.

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