ARNHEM CENTRAAL, THE NETHERLANDS

Master planned by UNStudio, Arnhem Centraal is the result of an ambitious 20-year project to redevelop the wider station area, the largest post-war development in Arnhem. The transfer hub rewrote the rule book on train stations as it is the most complex of its type in Europe. The redevelopment was strongly backed by the Dutch government. The station has become the new ‘front door’ of Arnhem city, embracing the spirit of travel. It has established Arnhem as an important node between Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium.

Ben van Berkel / Photo: Inga Powilleit

Ben van Berkel is a renowned multiple award-winning architect and founder of UNStudio. The reputed Studio is a network of specialists in architecture, urban development and infrastructure. It has continually expanded its capabilities through prolonged collaboration with an extended network of international consultants, partners, and advisors across the globe.

Night View of Arnhem Centraal

UNStudio has drawn on the knowledge found in related fields facilitates the exploration of comprehensive strategies which combine programmatic requirements, construction and movement studies into an integrated design. As a network practice, a highly flexible methodological approach has been developed by the Studio to incorporate parametric designing and collaborations with leading specialists in other disciplines.

Alluring Structural Design

The redeveloped Arnhem Centraal houses commercial areas, a conference centre and provides links to the nearby office plaza, city centre, underground parking garage and the Park Sonsbeek. The area around the station with 160,000m2 of offices, shops and a cinema complex has attracted the tourists as well as the locals alike. The 21,750m2 Transfer Terminal features a dramatic twisting structural roof geometry, which enables column-free spans of up to 60m in the transfer hall.

Exploded View of the Main Constructive Elements

UNStudio has brilliantly blurred the distinctions between the inside and outside of the terminal by continuing the urban landscape into the interior of the transfer hall, where ceilings, walls and floors all seamlessly transition into one another by taking references from the continuous inside/outside surface of a Klein Bottle.

Entrance Hall of the Centraal

The structure of the roof and twisting column was only made possible by abandoning traditional construction methods and materials – much lighter steel replaced concrete, originally intended for the station, and was constructed using boat-building techniques on a scale never attempted before. It was path-breaking!

View from the Outside

It was a collaborative efforts of both the client, ProRail B.V. and Ben van Berkel’s UNStudio to deliver such a complex over a lengthy project time without compromising on the design or the budget. It truly required the courage and determination of both the parties.

Commuters’ Dream Project

The key stakeholders – ProRail, Contractor Combination Ballast Nedam – BAM, the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Arnhem City Council’s exceptional collaborations made this project a huge success.

Trams’ Connectivity

UNStudio commenced master planning in the year 1996. The first design sketch for the Transfer Terminal took nearly four years to complete. Intensive research were carried out to understand the passenger flows and transportation modes. Finally, UNStudio proposed that the new terminal should expand to become a ‘transfer machine’ that incorporates the whole spectrum of public transport, meeting the travel demands of the 21st Century.

Huge Car Parking Space

Arnhem Central works on international, national and regional levels. Thereby, allowing passengers to move between cities intuitively and with ease. The project is part of a countrywide railway upgrade that will see new stations in Rotterdam, Delft, The Hague, Breda and Utrecht.

Cyclists’ Haven

UNStudio worked with structural engineers Arup. A space without columns was produced to form an architectural expression designed around the ways people will intuitively use the space.

Aerial Shot of Arnhem Centraal

After the completion of the project, Ben van Berkel stated, “Arnhem Central is no longer just a train station. It has become a transfer hub. We wanted to give a new and vital impetus to station design, so rather than merely designing the station around the activities and people flows that already took place there, the expanded architecture of the new Transfer Terminal directs and determines how people use and move around the building.”

Image Courtesy: UNStudio

Photographer(s): Hufton+Crow / Siebe Swart (Aerial shots)

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