Utilising every square metre in the heart of Amsterdam
A completely new design
The city centre side of the entire width of the island where Amsterdam Central railway station is situated is to be completely renovated. Iv-Infra is responsible for the complete design of the ‘De Entree’ project, including the underground bicycle parking facility. How do you convert all the separate plans into one integral design, while everyday life continues in this incredibly busy area? That’s going to mean utilising every square metre as much as possible.
Busiest area of Amsterdam
“How difficult can it be?" Were the first thoughts of Hans Geltink, Project Manager at Iv-Infra. “I’ve been used to working on projects involving kilometres of motorways such as the Schiphol-Amsterdam-Almere (SAA) road expansion, Rijkswaterstaat's largest road project. A project such as ‘De Entrée’ is much less area in comparison. Yet it soon became apparent that a project in the heart of Amsterdam is much more complex because of the ever-changing environment. Very different from working on a motorway! On motorways, there’s no tripping over cyclists, no tourists asking for directions to the ‘red light district’ and of course, no boats full of party animals cruising by when you step out of the site cabin." The project area on the centre-side of Amsterdam Central station is one of the busiest areas of the city. Everything comes together here: pedestrians, cyclists, trains, trams, the metro lines, buses, tour boats and coaches. Around 300,000 people come here every day and more than 1300 tram journeys also depart from here daily. With more than 600 cables and pipelines, foundations and metro tubes, it’s just as busy beneath the ground as it is above. The greatest challenge with the renewal of ‘De Entrée’ is to piece together all the separate components within the whole and to effectively manage the many interfaces.
The common thread throughout the entire design process for this project is to produce surprise-proof designs. Because the surrounding environment doesn’t offer any leeway for improvisation, a 'fool-proof design' with proven solutions must be chosen. To prevent clashes during the implementation, every component of the project is designed in 3D and is subsequently ‘virtually built’ in a 4D BIM model.
Mapping the current environment
Given that every square metre of the area needs to be cleverly utilised, it’s important to know exactly what the existing situation looks like to ensure that all the different components can be properly incorporated without clashing occurring. What exactly is where and what are the dimensions of all the elements in the given area? Over time, much has been adjusted and changed which often means that the drawings available are no longer accurate. For this reason, the entire project area was scanned at the very beginning. The bridges in the area have been adapted several times in recent years which is why the area data had to be adjusted. To be able to incorporate the integral design effectively into the existing structures, Iv-Infra has also visualised the bridges by means of 3D laser scanning from the water. "Besides mapping the project environment, we also needed to take into consideration that we too were a part of it," says Hans. “The site cabin is situated on a pontoon diagonally opposite the railway station. In the summer months, the door of the site cabin was often open, and tourists would just walk in. We had to hang a sign on the door reading: ‘no tourist information’.”
The integral design
Iv-Infra is responsible for the entire integral design within this project. This includes the design of the ground level layout, the road infrastructure and the redevelopment of Sationsplein (Station Square), adjustments to the bridges and quays and the structural design of the new underground bicycle parking facility, the integration of the rail infrastructure, sewer systems, cables and pipelines, traffic control systems and the overhead tram lines.
Underground bicycle parking facility
The new bicycle parking facility, for around 7,000 bicycles, will be made of reinforced concrete and will largely be located below groundwater level between the Western Access Bridge (Bridge 13) and the Sint Nicolaas Bridge (Bridge 306) or Middle Access Bridge. The water level is NAP -0.40 m (Normal Amsterdam Level) while the floor level of the bicycle parking facility is NAP -6.6 m, roughly six metres below groundwater level. The water pressure on the underside of the floor is equal to approximately seven tonnes per square metre and to keep the bicycle parking space positioned in place, approximately 1100 anchor piles are needed under the floor. Before water can be pumped out, the construction pit will be provided with an underwater concrete floor. The
Prins Hendrikkade forms the primary flood defence for the centre of Amsterdam, and this is where the new bicycle parking facility will be located. In consultation with the water board, the decision was made to keep the flood defence functionally and structurally separated from the bicycle parking facility. The replacement flood defence is to be implemented as an anchored sheet pile wall. From a construction point of view, this sheet pile wall is not part of the parking facility. Thanks to this design solution, the construction of the bicycle parking facility does not have to be considered a part of the flood defence system and the granting of permits can also be simplified.
In the construction phase, the replacement flood defence forms part of the construction pit. By designing the bicycle parking facility in 3D, the condition of existing structures such as the posts under the adjacent bridges and the anchors of the existing quay has also been verified. "Despite having a fully 3D design, surprises can still arise during the implementation," says Hans. “We designed an adaptation to the floor of an existing concrete L-wall based on the collected area data. At least that’s what we thought. When the wall was excavated during the implementation, we didn’t come across a floor. It turned out that in the past, the L-wall had already been replaced with a steel sheet pile wall.”
The topside of the roof of the bicycle parking facility will be approximately 2.5 metres below water level and the four mooring jetties will be placed on the roof. A connecting tunnel will be realised between the bicycle parking facility and the metro hall below Stationsplein. This tunnel will pass under the new tramline that will run from Stationsplein over the widening of the Sint Nicolaas Bridge. The tunnel is to be designed using a walls-roof construction method, whereby the roof will be realised first and later the tunnel underneath. The foundations of the tunnel will be made of steel and are designed in such a way that should it be decided in the future to build the East Line, removal will be fairly straight forward. Iv-Infra created the structural design for the bicycle parking facility. This involved close cooperation with Geo2 Engineering for the geotechnical design of the construction pit and the foundations of the entire project, and with wUrck, the party responsible for the architectural design of the bicycle parking facility. The main contractor, Max Bögl, will realise the ‘De Entrée’ project together with twelve partners. "It’s very nice to work together with so many different parties as one team," says Hans. “We consult a lot with each other and coordinate everything, which has resulted in a good collaboration”.
New tram infrastructure
The entire tram infrastructure will be renewed on Prins Hendrikkade and Stationsplein. This will include the rails, points, point management and overhead lines to the tram stops. A design had already been provided by the GVB for the alignment of the tram. This was the leading design for the road infrastructure. Iv-Infra has further developed the tram design in 3D to provide insight into any potential clashes with other elements in the area, thus allowing the design to be adjusted accordingly.
There are various bridges leading from Stationsplein to the city centre. The access bridge in the middle, at the height of the Victoria hotel, will be widened. The existing access bridge is relatively slender. Given that the available construction height between the free space for navigational passage and the required height for the tramway construction on top of the widening is limited, precast prestressed concrete girders will be used for the widening. When finished, the widening will not be visible, and the passage height will remain the same. The advantage of using precast concrete is that a slenderer construction can be achieved in a shorter construction time, therefore also reducing the environmental hindrance.
Clash analysis requirements
Because of the many different disciplines and stakeholders involved in this project, interface management is the most important design task; for which a targeted approach was chosen. Together with the municipality of Amsterdam, clash analysis requirements have been established to realise the final design in a shorter space of time. All requirements have been critically considered and with the help of context diagrams, an inventory of the design interfaces has been prepared. Subsequently, the planning interfaces between the various design assignments were established during lean sessions. The design was coordinated with the various interface parties during the elaboration of the final design. Fixed control measures have been determined for the inventoried interfaces. The monitoring of this is integrated into the systems engineering tool within Relatics. Additionally, regular substantive coordination consultations have also taken place. The condition for the completion of the final design was the managing of all interfaces. This was guaranteed by internal reviews and clash control based on the combined 3D models in BIM. "During the current phase of the implementation design, we continuously test the partial designs against the integral final design", explains Hans. "This is how we ensure that the integrality of the entire project is guaranteed when the individual design tasks in the implementation design phase are further elaborated.”
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