Arnhem Central

A dynamic station landscape Arnhem / Netherlands / 2016

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Arnhem is entering a new phase of its existence with a spectacular new station. Various transport flows, among them trains, cars, pedestrians and cyclists, converge at the station, creating an urban landscape that facilitates interaction. Architecture firm UNStudio drew up the masterplan for the station area and designed the public transport terminal, platforms, office towers and other amenities. Bureau B+B urbanism and landscape architecture designed the public space, with an area of 45,000 square metres.


The area around Arnhem Central is an eye-catching showcase for international travellers entering the Netherlands from the east, and a unique addition to the public space in Arnhem. It forms a new gateway to the city and acts as an urban intersection and place of encounter for travellers and inhabitants. Some 65,000 passengers use the station and surrounding public spaces, including facilities and meeting places, every day. The bulk of the work on the station masterplan was completed in 2015, but the final piece consists of the development of the eastern section, scheduled for completion in 2016. That will once again connect the station area to the centre of Arnhem.


The new station in Arnhem is one of a new generation of completely new stations developed in the Netherlands. Rotterdam Central Station opened in 2014, and was followed in 2015 by stations in Arnhem, Delft and The Hague. Breda and Utrecht stations will follow in 2016. The Netherlands has made a strategic choice to develop high-quality stations that are much more than just public transport interchanges. Arnhem Central is where not only national and international trains but also regional and local transport lines converge. In addition, the project includes office towers, a cinema, a car park, shops, restaurants and cafés. The station area distinguishes itself in three significant ways. It responds to the unique landscape characteristics of the setting; it forms an important place of encounter for both inhabitants and travellers; and it creates optimal connections with its urban surroundings.


Arnhem station area is situated exactly along the transition from the Hoge Veluwe national park to the landscape flanking the River Nederrijn. This is a remarkable area, characterized by a unique topography, with height differences of up to twenty metres. A feature of the area is the railway line from Utrecht. Train passengers enter the city along a deep lateral moraine cut into the Veluwe landscape. These striking height differences form the basis for the design of the public space around the station. Bureau B+B designed an undulating setting that organizes the various visitor flows, amenities and experiences in a natural way.


In its design of the public space, Bureau B+B conceived of the station surroundings as one continuous and coherent ground plane that is read independently and has an identity of its own. This space extends from the car park entrance on the west, to the office plaza with its two office towers, to the connection with the inner city and city centre on the east. To that end, the ground surface of the public transport terminal, the bus station and the immediate surroundings are surfaced in stone that extends seamlessly from inside to outside. Moreover, the Oude Stationsstraat, which connects the station to the city, is also surfaced in this material.


This stone surface is laid in various directions and follows the undulating ground plane, with specially shaped tiles ensuring smooth transitions. The plane is fitted with stainless-steel drainage lines and stainless-steel numbers that refer to the height differences, subtly marking the topography of the area. Height differences are bridged by stone folds in the plane. Fitted with wooden seats, these folds transform into benches that combine with the greenery to form a high-quality atmosphere in the area. On account of its rolling surface, the station surroundings have been discovered as an international skate zone, enhancing the vibrancy of the place. Thanks to the sturdy detailing of the ground plane and the durable street furniture, the arrival of this new category of users is easily accommodated.


A distinctive feature of Arnhem is its tall trees, so-called ‘forest giants’, scattered around the city. They point to the influence of the nearby Hoge Veluwe landscape with its monumental forests and trees. This characteristic of the city extends into the station area, where impressive sycamores pay tribute to the green identity of Arnhem. They not only link the station to the city but also enhance orientation within the site. The smaller and more transparent honey locusts mark meeting spots and places for encounters. With good exposure to the sun, appropriate illumination and views, these trees contribute substantially to a pleasant atmosphere around the station.


The landscape transition from Hoge Veluwe to the Nederrijn is also legible in the planting scheme. Along the eastern side, plants that thrive in the shade, such as ferns and foliage plants, ensure a sturdy and luxuriant quality, while colourful plants that prefer dry conditions define the appearance of the higher and sunnier zones and are in keeping with the hard-surface character of these zones.


The lighting concept, developed in collaboration with Atelier Lek, enhances the qualities of the station area. It is a low-maintenance, energy efficient and vandal-proof illumination scheme that contributes to a sense of safety and reinforces the qualities of the space. The deployment of illumination results in smooth transitions between indoor and outdoor spaces. In places where orientation is key, such as the busy trolley bus zone, low levels of contrast ensure that the space remains easy to survey. In other places, light contrasts actually strengthen the atmosphere and quality of the surroundings. Small lampposts are positioned close to areas of greenery and seating, while ground spotlights pick out the monumental trees around the station. Linear illumination and illumination integrated into handrails emphasize the folds in the ground plane and strengthen the legibility of the area.


Thanks to its permanent presence in the station area quality team, Bureau B+B made an important contribution to the continuity and quality of the overall design. Intensive collaboration with the city of Arnhem, architecture firm UNStudio and the many specialists involved during the design and implementation phase has resulted in a distinctive station development that is in harmony with the unique and specific characteristics of this city. It is an integral plan in which the built volumes and public space design merge seamlessly and emphasize the unique natural and topographic qualities of this place.

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    Arnhem is entering a new phase of its existence with a spectacular new station. Various transport flows, among them trains, cars, pedestrians and cyclists, converge at the station, creating an urban landscape that facilitates interaction. Architecture firm UNStudio drew up the masterplan for the station area and designed the public transport terminal, platforms, office towers and other amenities. Bureau B+B urbanism and landscape architecture designed the public space, with an area of 45,000...

    Project details
    • Year 2016
    • Work started in 2002
    • Work finished in 2016
    • Client Municipality of Arnhem
    • Status Current works
    • Type Public Squares / Urban Furniture / Bridges and Roads / Railway Stations / Parking facilities / Urban development plans / Office Buildings / Business Centers / Offices/studios / Cinemas / Conference Centres / Showrooms/Shops / Bars/Cafés / Lighting Design / Bus Stations / Urban Renewal / Cycle Paths / Tunnels / Underground Stations / Furniture design
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