Walking on art

At the stations of the "Noord-Zuidlijn" metro line in Amsterdam, tiles from Mosa's "Quartz" collection set the direction.

As of last summer, anybody wanting to get from the south of Amsterdam to the north as quickly as possible will be using the M52. Covering a stretch of almost ten kilometers, the “Noord-Zuidlijn” connects eight stations. Benthem Crouwel Architects accepted the challenge of building the new subway stations and created an artistic concept together with QKunst. Each station was provided with its own individual artwork, one with a link to the location in question and also offering additional guidance. At most of the stations, tiles from the “Quartz” collection by Mosa have been laid at passengers’ feet. “We decided on Mosa because the company was able to create a tile with a top layer that provided us with the desired color and light reflections,” explains Benthem Crouwel Architects. Tiles from Mosa’s “Quartz series” served as the basis for the surface layer adapted in accordance with the architects’ wishes. Because of the natural way that the delicate constituent parts in the ceramic floor tiles behave, as the incidence of light changes throughout the day, different shades of color come to the fore as the day progresses. And as well as the optical effects, because they have a slightly rough surface the tiles also prevent passengers from slipping when it rains. Every single particle of the tiles is so robust that they are scratch-proof as well as resistant to wear from friction and frost damage. They are also easy to clean.

For the station “Noord” the architects decided on a particular eyecatcher. Graphic designer Harmen Liemburg furnished a 1,200 m²-section of the flooring with a permanent sketch in white, with sweeping lines merging into sketches of birds and flowers which accompany passengers from their arrival right up to their departure again. What served as the inspiration for this detailed artwork was both historical maps of Amsterdam and the birdlife that is to be found in and around the city. The realization of this artwork necessitated a not inconsiderable amount of technical knowhow – with the picture in its entirety being composed of individual tiles assembled rather like a puzzle and cut to the desired size of 30 x 60 cm. For the details of this artwork the anthracite tiles had sections cut out of them with a water jet. Then, finally, white tiles from the “Quartz” collection were cut to fit into these sections perfectly, thus bringing the artwork as a whole to life. “In projects as complex as these collaboration is essential. Quite apart from the technology involved, you need to have an eye for detail and the will to achieve the desired quality,” explains Liemburg. All in all, Mosa lent the stations on the “Noord-Zuidlijn” line a unique flair.

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