Since June 2016, Amsterdam Central Station has two fully-functioning entrances - the existing historic entrance facing the city centre and the modern IJ hall on the river side. The hall has been built underneath the elevated bus level and extends across the entire width of the station. The first section was opened on 1 June 2015, followed by the last section in the summer of 2016.
Two passages, the IJ Passage and the Amstel Passage, form a gate-free connection (that is, where no public transport pass or ticket is required for access) between the rear of the station, facing the River IJ, and the front, facing the city centre. Deerns was responsible for the mechanical and electrical engineering systems and for the building physics. In addition, Deerns carried out a climate study for the entire station and a thorough examination of the fire safety aspects. Modified solutions were developed for the various areas, designed to meet the needs of shoppers on the move and of visitors to the station.
Deerns created a uniform but flexible design for the systems in the IJ hall and the gate-free passages. This was a real challenge, given the presence of existing pipes and wiring in the ceilings and the limited space available for system-related components. The design has been made with a view to the future, with account being taken of changes of tenants. This means that the individual stores can connect their own systems for heating, cooling, gas, water, and electricity. By fitting or indeed removing indoor partitions, stores are able to increase or decrease their size without affecting the existing systems (up to a certain height). The equipment for other systems, such as those for ventilation, data, Wi-Fi, transport, or sprinklers, has also been designed by Deerns.
The IJ hall is a transfer area on the River IJ side of the station, and is home to many shops and catering outlets for travellers or for visitors to or residents of the city. The hall forms a hub between the various modes of transport. It provides easy access to the trains, metro, buses, ferries, and taxis.
Because of the large physical entrance outwards and upwards towards the bus level, the stores in this area had to be insulated individually. Moreover, one of the requirements was that of an acoustically pleasant ambience. The space has been decorated with acoustically hard ceiling elements, which reflect the water of the River IJ. Deerns’ careful configuration of these panels and use of sound-absorbing materials has resulted in very pleasing acoustics in the hall. Vibration-free and well insulated ceilings help limit the noise of the trains, situated immediately above.
There is no access up from the two gate-free passages to the train platforms. It is a warm and climate-controlled retail area, surrounded by building elements that are openly connected to the outdoor environment. The western IJ Passage features predominantly fashion, beauty, and lifestyle outlets, among others. Travellers in the eastern Amstel Passage, meanwhile, are offered a wide choice of fresh-food products.
One requirement was that the climate in the passages should be pleasant, both for travellers and the people working there. Deerns has made smart use of engineering, system, and organisational techniques to enhance the levels of comfort and safety. Limiting the effect of the wind on the internal spaces as much as possible has resulted in an agreeable climate-controlled shopping area. The ceilings have been well insulated and made vibration-free, in order to provide maximum absorption of the noise caused by the trains above. Smokescreens have also been fitted, which will descend in the event of a fire, or fire alarm, thereby acting as a buffer against the smoke and preventing it from spreading.