Rainproofing South-axis

Amsterdam South Axis (Zuidas) is the most prestigious city redevelopment site in the Netherlands. Public space is of high quality, offices are high end architectural standard, density is high. Within all these high ambitions the catchment of storm water has not had a lot of priority. Therefore when heavy rains occur, problems start to arise because the subterranean system cannot handle all water fast enough to guarantee a dry passage for every Prada shoe that walks the pavement.

In order to explore some innovative solutions we were asked to have a look at the future development of the site where most problems are expected to occur: the ‘kenniskwartier’ (knowledge quarter because of the immediate connection to adjacent university premises).

Here we set the goal to rainproof the area by adding quality to public space simultaneously. We discovered it is possible to cope with very heavy rainfall (storms of 55 mm) if we rigorously apply two principles: to make small catchment areas that hold their own water and therefore create as much as possible local (temporal) storage capacity. As a test we tried to position this completely within public space.

The design proposal comprises rainproofing three long infrastructural lines and two special places in the plan area. For all five intervention places we combine an improvement in public space quality with increasing storm water buffer capacity. Especially in three long lines we combine this with a substantial greening and softening of public space: Boelelaan, Mahlerlaan and Zuidasdok. The last one is very strategic: It’s about combining the ambitious tunneling of the Amsterdam southern ring road A10 with a structural improvement of the water system of the entire South Axis.

Although just being a feasibility study offering future perspectives for rainproofing, we made our proposals very precise: in their spatial measurements, their exact construction levels, the possible water catchment quantities, the effective interaction between buffering in public space and subterranean infrastructures, the cleaning potential of our proposed planting schemes and the lingering quality it will provide to passersby and future inhabitants of the place.