Arnhem Central Transfer Terminal

The new €37.5m (£27.6m) Transfer Terminal at Arnhem Central Station in the Netherlands has now completed. The station is the result of an ambitious 20-year project – master planned by UNStudio – to redevelop the wider station area; the largest post-war development in Arnhem. Backed by the Dutch government, this transfer hub rewrites the rulebook on train stations and is the most complex of its type in Europe.

Courtesy of UNStudio – Photography: Hufton+Crow

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 center 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 160,000 m2 of offices, shops and a cinema complex.

Courtesy of UNStudio – Photography: Siebe Swart

The 21,750 m2 Transfer Terminal features a dramatic twisting structural roof geometry, which enables column-free spans of up to 60 m 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.

Courtesy of UNStudio – Photography: Hufton+Crow

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.

Courtesy of UNStudio – Photography: Hufton+Crow

Delivery of such a complex and lengthy project on time, on budget and without design compromise required the courage and determination of both the client, ProRail B.V. and the architects. It is also the result of an exceptional collaborative endeavour by the key stakeholders, ProRail, Contractor Combination Ballast Nedam – BAM, the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Arnhem City Council.

Courtesy of UNStudio – Photography: Frank Hanswijk

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.

Courtesy of UNStudio – Photography: Hufton+Crow

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. This project is part of a countrywide railway upgrade that will see new stations in Rotterdam, Delft, The Hague, Breda and Utrecht.

Courtesy of UNStudio – Photography: Hufton+Crow

“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.

Courtesy of UNStudio – Photography: Hufton+Crow

“To keep all stakeholders on board and on the right track during the long journey to completion was a real challenge” said Karin van Helmond, Project Manager Station Development at ProRail. “In the past twenty years many things changed in the economy, technology, politics and social environment. By focusing on our ultimate goal, the actual building of this magnificent station, we succeeded in overcoming all setbacks and risks and by working closely together we got this unprecedented job done”.

Courtesy of UNStudio – Photography: Frank Hanswijk

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 5,355 m2 main Transfer Hall, topped with a dynamic, undulating roof form.

Courtesy of UNStudio – Photography: Frank Hanswijk

In the development of the design, the practice used a series of conceptual structural tools to mold the geometry of the terminal landscape to accommodate the different program functions. These include the use of ‘V-walls’, a load-bearing concrete structure that absorbs the differences in the required grids and provides daylight to the below ground levels. The spaces between these elements also form the public access from the underground car park to the other components.

Courtesy of UNStudio – Photography: Hufton+Crow

Project Info
Architects: UNStudio
Location: Arnhem, Netherlands
Area: 21750.0 sqm
Construction Management: ProRail B.V. with back-office support of multiple parties
Structural Engineer: Arup Amsterdam (public transport terminal), Van der Werf & Lankhorst (bus station, parking garage and office square)
MEP / Installations: Arcadis
Fire and life safety: DGMR Bouw BV
Lighting: Arup Lighting
Wayfinding: Bureau Mijksenaar
Tender Specifications: ABT
Pedestrian Tunnel Main Contractor: Besix-Welling
Pedestrian Tunnel Structural Engineer: Arcadis (Tender Design)
Terminal Phase 1 Main Contractor: Bouwcombinatie BAM Ballast Arnhem , Centrum VOF (BBB, BAM & Ballast Nedam)
Terminal Phase 1 Structural Engineer: Arup Amsterdam
Terminal Phase 1 MEP / Installations: BAM Techniek Unica
Terminal Phase 2 Main Contractor: BouwCombinatie OV-Terminal Arnhem (BCOVTA, BAM & Ballast Nedam)
Terminal Phase 2 Structural Engineer: BAM Advies & Engineering ABT
Terminal Phase 2 MEP / Installations: BAM Techniek, Unica
Year: 2015
Type: Terminal
Photographs: Ronald Tilleman, Frank Hanswijk, Siebe Swart, Hufton+Crow

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