The renovated World Trade Center project is a case study showing how a 1960s structure, anti-urban in its form, can be reconceived as a project which initiates the regeneration of a whole quarter of the city. The WTC Amsterdam is located in the most attractive area of South Amsterdam adjacent to WTC/Zuid, the main railway station. It forms the gateway to the city’s ambitious new masterplan devised by the city authorities to turn Zuidas into a dense business and residential quarter reinforced by new cultural, educational and recreational facilities. However, the existing buildings of the World Trade Centre – four 1960s office slabs connected by lower structures and open courtyards – were dark and unwelcoming.
The new design unites the buildings and spaces with a grand roof, stretched 300 metres across the site above a new urban passageway that culminates in Zuidplein – a new civic plaza along the original 19th century axis designed by H.P. Berlage. The sweeping roof is a free standing structure that wraps around the office slabs but is structurally independent of them. This roof structure forms a unifying podium under which a mixture of uses/activities – including retail, restaurants, conference centre, offices and a series of linked public spaces – occur. It is formed of structural blades spanning up to 21 metres and integrating the functions of weather protection, solar control, lighting, acoustic control and fire protection. It is an integral part of the project’s broader environmental concept that permits a variety of climate/temperature zones to occur under different parts of the roof simultaneously. These spaces are naturally ventilated and energy efficient, utilizing passive solar gain in winter and bore hole cooling in the summer.
A new daylit atrium formed by the large span roof acts as the heart of the revamped complex. To the west, new office pavilions were added to the pre-existing complex, creating a lofty new glazed entrance foyer that becomes the main entrance to the WTC from the station. The pre-existing blocks were re-clad using clear glass and extending the window panels to provide better daylighting and views out. Their cores were also refurbished.
A fifth tower was added to provide additional office space. The WTC complex was further expanded to the east of the existing site and Zuidplein by a new 100m office tower and a lower building formed around a large atrium space. The distinctive natural wood panels of its inner façade contrast with the crisp external curtainwall composed of a double skin which buffers the offices from traffic noise and southern sun.
The renovation, modernization and extension of the World Trade Center Amsterdam “represents a bold and generous approach to making the legacy of the recent past work for the future” – Ken Powell, Architecture Critic and Writer.