Amsterdam Tunnel Lined with 80,000 Delft Blue Tiles

Showcasing the material beauty of ceramics, the Cuyperspassage bicycle and pedestrian tunnel at Amsterdam’s Central Station is clad with 80,000 Delft Blue tiles. A project from Benthem Crouwel Architects, the tunnel measures 110 meters in length and 3 meters in height. Connecting the city to the waters of the Ij-river, the tunnel is used by 15,000 commuters daily.

Lining the pedestrian side of the tunnel, these smooth, hand-shaped tiles are part of a spectacular tableau designed by Dutch designer Irma Boom. The tableau references a restored work by famed Dutch tile painter Cornelis Boumeester, whose works depicting the warship Rotterdam and the herring fleet is part of the Rijksmuseum collection. Boom however replaces the original crest on the stern with the Amsterdam coat of arms and added large and small vessels, crashing waves, seagulls and herring busses.

As pedestrians and cyclists move through the passageway from the city, the tableau fades away as you move towards the Ij-river, before emerging again in the form of an abstract gradient of light to dark blue. This transition from classic Dutch imagery to abstract pixelation represents the journey from the historic district of Amsterdam to ‘new Amsterdam,’ as well as the evolution of Dutch artistic style over time.

Dutch ceramics company Koninklijk Tichelaar crafted the 46,000 wall tiles for the tableau as well as 33,000 tiles for the floor. Each tile is made in the traditional Dutch tile size of 13 x 13 cm, recalling the safety and warmth of a traditional Dutch domesticity.

The different modes of transport that use the tunnel are spatially and materially separated. The pedestrian path, in addition to being lined with the smooth tiles of the tableau, is also raised above the cycle path, allowing pedestrians to feel at a safe distance from bike traffic. Meanwhile, the generously wide path for cyclists is finished with a black, sound-absorbing asphalt and steel gratings with LED lights illuminating the edges of the cycleway.

You can explore more master crafted ceramics by Koninklijk Tichelaar in our collection here.