After two decades of working, the Arnhem Station designed by Amsterdam-based practice UNStudio in collaboration with engineering firm Arup opens its doors to the public. Integrating the naturally sloping landscape distinctive to Arnhem, UNStudio conceived the Transfer Terminal as a flowing, utilitarian landscape of different functions stacked up to four storeys above ground and two below. The key space is the 5,355m2 main Transfer Hall, topped with a dynamic, undulating roof form.
With the opening of the new station building the transformation of the city’s transport interchange and the surrounding area is now complete.
The station will become the new ‘front door’ of the city, embracing the spirit of travel, and is expected to establish Arnhem as an important node between Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. The new terminal houses commercial areas, and 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 will become a place in of itself, with 160,000m2 of offices, shops and a cinema complex.
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. Taking references from the continuous inside/outside surface of a Klein Bottle, UNStudio aimed to blur 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. 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 before attempted.
UNStudio began the masterplan in 1996 and completed its first sketch design for the Transfer Terminal back in 2000. After intensively researching passenger flows and transportation modes, 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. Working with structural engineers Arup, a space without columns was produced, forming an architectural expression designed around the ways people will intuitively use the space. The station works on international, national and regional levels, allowing passengers to move between cities intuitively and with ease.
“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” said Ben van Berkel, founder and principal architect of UNStudio.
all images © Ronald Tilleman