Development of the Zuidas in general and of the area around Amsterdam Zuid station in particular is seen by the municipality as a move to improve the position of the city among European office locations. This is also consistent with the national urban nodes and location policies, and is needed to create employment in the city: in the long term 40 000 jobs could be realized here in the office sector and supporting services. Its promoters contend that the Zuidas is the location in the country with the best potential to become a European office centre. This would be confirmed by the record office rents already exacted in the area. However, and here may lie some ambiguity, multifunctionality is seen as necessary in a high-profile office complex. The creation of an office environment will be sustained by the international image of the already expanding cluster of congress, exhibition, and hotel activities. Housing and the university would provide the required liveliness and hospitality. In the areas to be developed, multifunctionality concretely implies a mixture of houses, shops, hotels, restaurants, sports facilities and, above all, high-quality public spaces: squares, parks, boulevards, and natural elements.
Market research shows that a potential for 600 000-900 000 m2 of offices exists in the area, over a 30-year period. The targets of the Zuidas are offices for banks, international trade, services, and administration. Both private firms and public institutions are welcome, both large and small—provided they can afford the high rents. It is, however, still under discussion whether offices will be speculatively built or whether users will be sought in advance. A total of about 660 000 m2 of offices and 1560 housing units in 20 years is envisaged by the master plan, of which about 195 000 m2 of offices and 595 houses respectively will be built in the first phase,
Table 6.3 The Zuidas: summary of the main phases
Phase 1: the municipality against market trends, late 1980s/early 1990s
End 1980s/beginning 1990s
While the municipality struggles to attract investors to the central IJ-oevers area, an intense, 'spontaneous' market dynamics takes place at peripheral station locations along the motorway ring
Phase 2: the municipality with market trends, 1994-2000
February 1994 Spring 1994
The private partner of the IJ-oevers initiative withdraws
Following the local elections, a new policy is started: on the IJ-oevers the objective will be a mixed living-working area; along the Zuidas, an office district of international standing will be promoted. The Zuidas coalition and the Zuidas administrative conference are installed
The operative 'Zuidas nucleus' begins its work Studies
Draft version of the Zuidas master plan presented to the public
Information and consultation campaign; bilateral discussions
The transport operators present their vision of the future node of Zuid station
The consultation period ends, elaboration of critical points begins
Expected submission of a definitive text to the city and district councils for final approval
Completion of legal procedures, locally and nationally; detailing of plans
Phase 3: implementation, 2001-2022
2001 Implementation expected to start. Four stages will then follow, length depending on absorption of offices by the market: provisionally first up to 2008, second up to 2013, third up to 2017, and fourth up to 2022
stretching over about 6.5 years. In the first two decades, space for development will be found by intensifying or transferring low-density activities (essentially sport and recreation). After that, further air-rights development will be possible if the infrastructure has been brought underground. Development will start from the heart of the Zuidas: the areas around Amsterdam Zuid station.
The emerging vision for the south axis has far-reaching implications for potential developments elsewhere, and most importantly for the IJ-oevers, next to Centraal station and the historic city centre. Here no office concentration will be promoted, but rather continuation of the character of the inner city, and cultural and tourism functions. Also, other subcentres, most of them also at stations along the motorway ring (such as Zuidoost at Bijlmer station, and Teleport at Sloterdijk station), are seen as complementary rather than competitive. The same applies to Schiphol Airport, possibly the fastest-growing property location in the country. Public policy will, if necessary, reinforce these trends. Not everybody agrees, however, with this confidence in a more or less self-regulating regional office market; some think that there is still a risk of oversupply and destructive competition between locations (Nagengast, 1997, p. 77). A study by the Free University (Rienstra et al., 1996) confirms that, in the light of a historically strong demand reinforced by the current office market revival, realization of a top office location is a real possibility, but the envisaged yearly average of 30 000 m2 of offices would mean attracting more than the whole top segment of the most optimistic market projections for the Amsterdam region. The Zuidas has this potential, but this would be at the expense of locations elsewhere in the country, unless international firms were to locate in the area from abroad. This is not easy to achieve, given Amsterdam's relatively weak position in the European office market. The same study argues that the Zuidas plan's potential for job creation is well grounded, but this could accelerate the abandonment of the central city by economic activities.
Urban design principles
A first principle is multifunctionality. The plan envisages a concentration of offices on and around the main infrastructure, a concentration of houses further away, and a concentration of services around the station. Nevertheless, a functional mix is considered desirable in all sections, and essential around Amsterdam Zuid station. Public consultation has reinforced this point, and in the amendments currently being considered, multifunctionality has been better specified. Target percentages for secondary functions have been identified in both the office and housing concentration areas, ranging between 10% and 25%. However, no details have been given of financial measures to support the percentages of less profitable or unprofitable activities in office parcels, in contrast with what for instance has been done in Zentrum Zürich Nord (Chapter 8). Also, the quantity and quality of services around the station have been better defined: a total of 6500 m2, aimed partly at the daily users of the transportation centre and office complex, and partly as image strengtheners. The location of public facilities poses a dilemma: how to attract them without weakening other areas, and particularly the city centre? A further constraint on multifunctionality, in the event that the dock model (see below) is not chosen, is that noise levels, especially of car traffic on the motorway, will not allow housing near the infrastructure bundle. In an open-air infrastructure layout, the problem of the risks associated with the transport of dangerous materials would also have to be dealt with.
'Healing' of the urban fabric is a second guiding concept that emerged from the urban design studies. Important tools here are the implementation of a more consistent network of open spaces, and the overcoming of the infrastructure barrier. The network of open spaces includes a
hierarchical grid of roads (main traffic roads, urban streets, and neighbourhood streets), pedestrian and bicycle paths, green and water elements (Figure 6.13). In particular, it is felt that the achievement of a high-quality public domain requires improved north-south links, including bicycle and pedestrian routes, improved access to Zuid station, and priority given to the pedestrian in the whole central area. The station will become a wide passage bridging (above or under) the infrastructure, and connecting station squares on both sides. Open spaces are assigned a strategic role in the master plan: they would ensure the desired environmental quality, regardless of the uncertain evolution of labour and housing markets, and of changing financial and political perspectives.
A third and core issue is how to integrate a dynamic bundle of road and rail infrastructure into a dynamic urban environment. Three integration models have been identified (Figure 6.14):
• A dike model, in which the infrastructure runs, as at present, on raised ground, and crosslinks are passages through or over the dike's body;
• a deck model, in which the infrastructure stays where it is now, but construction entirely envelops it;
• a dock model, in which all the infrastructure is brought underground, allowing a continuous urban fabric at ground level.
The third option is the preferred one, in the light of the much higher development potential that it offers. Its main disadvantages are, not surprisingly, its much higher costs
(approximately 1975 million guilders, in contrast to 575 million guilders for the dike option, and 1000 million guilders for the deck), but also its relatively greater constraints on expansions and adaptations of infrastructure capacity.
In order to realize the dock model, the decisions and actions of the main infrastructure operators and providers—largely outside the influence of the Zuidas promoters—have to work towards that solution. This also applies to the imminent decisions concerning expansion of the rail capacity from two to four tracks and of the motorway from three to four lanes in each direction. This has raised two issues. The first is the demand from the transport world for more flexibility. The transport operators do not see in the master plan a strong enough concept for the node (Gemeentevervoerbedrijf et al., 1997); they doubt that an underground terminal could achieve the high quality desired, and they denounce the insufficient space allowed for operational needs (including two missing regional rail tracks, and garaging and turning space in the event that Zuid should become the last stop of the HST). Furthermore, they do not consider it possible to fix all future needs now, and want more flexibility. Reinforcing a point already made in a study presented by NS a year earlier, they conclude that a mixed, layered or
'stacked' infrastructure integration model, with the infrastructure partly above and partly below ground, and appropriate land reservations, would offer the needed extra capacity, flexibility, and an adequate image and compactness of the node.
Revisions of the master plan following reactions to the draft version are currently (summer 1997) being considered. Perhaps the most important points concern the infrastructure, following these critical reactions of the transport operators. Further study will be undertaken of a stacked infrastructure integration model as proposed by the transport operators, with roads underground and rail infrastructure partly at and partly above ground level. Studies will also be made of the suggested need for additional rail infrastructure, of the possibility of realizing the station in phases, and of the layout of bus, tram and people-mover lines and station. Other spatial claims of transport operators have been rejected, including those of the railways for permanent space above ground for accessory and operational needs and facilities, and for car parking space for HST passengers.
The second issue resulting from the choice of the dock model is the need to convince central government of the worth of the extra investment. In order to secure sympathetic decision-making around infrastructure issues and the vital extra investment that this requires, the city needs central government to choose the Zuidas as a national office location, following the example of La Défense in France or Docklands in the UK. The promoters of the master plan argue that the plan is consistent with national policy objectives of reinforcing the Netherlands' competitive position as a location for international firms and decision makers, and of increasing the share of public transport by concentrating activities around stations. However, Amsterdam has to show that, unlike previously, it can both reach and maintain internal agreement and work together with external public and private partners. Perhaps more importantly, the plan demands a hard choice in favour of one location and one city, which is not usual in the Dutch political context. Such a choice would be a break with the Dutch tradition of distributing the benefits, in this case among all the four big cities, and will certainly meet resistance. Indeed, the other big cities are developing locations that will be at least partly competitive: Nieuw Centrum in The Hague, the Utrecht Centrum Project in Utrecht (see earlier), and Kop van Zuid and possibly the area around the central station (a future HST stop) in Rotterdam. The government has 'appreciated the proposals', and is studying them. A crucial decision is expected in the spring of 1998.
At the core of the development strategy for the Zuidas is the decision not to draw up a final state, but rather to work by means of process planning. This important decision is grounded on the belief that a blueprint approach in the Zuidas is neither possible, nor desirable, nor necessary. Decision-making should concern only what cannot be decided later, so that key choices are made at the most appropriate time, and real problems are dealt with as they arise. Furthermore, future social, financial or other changes may be better accounted for, as each step can be fine tuned along the way. Possibly the most important argument is that a crucial aspect of the development strategy is the effort to coordinate infrastructure and property developments both in space and in time. In addition to spatial issues, as discussed above, integration raises also time issues: time for technical construction, but also time for political procedures. The latter, especially for major interventions in the infrastructure, are complex, and contain many uncertainties.
In practice, a step-by-step plan stretching over 20 years is envisaged, which keeps options open as long as possible (among others, on the infrastructure integration model), and which allows under any condition a maximum of development. The first step is defined in detail, but the following steps are progressively more of an outline. Each step is identified by a set of key political decisions and actions, concerning principally the infrastructure, but also such things as land takes and transfers of functions. It is made up of subprojects, which are as far as possible independent from one another, and it takes up as much time as absorption by the market of the planned offices and housing will take. The latter, especially as far as offices are concerned, is the most important phasing criterion. The length of each phase is calculated on the expectation that the Zuidas could on average absorb 30 000 m2 of offices in the top segment each year, providing the plan with the necessary cross-financing of less profitable or nonprofitable elements.
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