In the heart of Rotterdam looms a menacing new giant; a 50,000 sq m transport hub that connects train, tram, bus and subway. Rotterdam Centraal Station opened earlier this month under the watchful gaze of His Majesty King Willem-Alexander and is now fully operational, serving as many as 110,000 passengers every day. Located a mere twenty minutes from Schipol Airport and with Paris only two and a half hours away, Rotterdam Centraal Station is a key new transport hub for Europe.
The memorable wood and steel design is the result of a collaboration between three Dutch architecture firms - Benthem Crouwel Architects, MVSA Meyer and Van Schooten Architecten, and West 8 - and takes its cue from central stations in other major European cities such as Brussels and Madrid. Whilst the interior spaces of the transport hub boast an international flavour, the exterior has been aesthetically tailored to be sensitive to its locale.
To the north of the station is the Provenierswijk neighbourhood whose character is that of a 19th-century Dutch provincial town. As such, the design team has inserted a modest face towards the north with an entranceway that gradually connects to the city. To the south, an imposing angular entranceway draws passengers in from the high-rise urban centre, its peak pointing towards the core of the city. This glass and wood structure references the modern aspects of Rotterdam’s identity.
A statement from the design team reads: “The city of Rotterdam is drawn to the new station via the compaction of the small-scale urban texture surrounding the public transport terminal. The entire railway zone becomes one with the city. This finer urban texture with new sightlines and a mixture of living and working will dramatically improve the quality of life and the environment of the station area.”
The cool finish of the stainless steel façade is counteracted by the warmth of structural wooden beams that line the platform roof to create a welcoming ambience for passengers. A large proportion of the 250m-long roof structure is transparent and more than a third of the entire roof features solar cells, estimated to generate 320 megawatts per annum. Varying levels of light transmittance creates an ever-changing shadow pattern on the platforms below.
Client: Gemeente Rotterdam and ProRail
Architect: Team CS: Benthem Crouwel Architects; MVSA Meyer en van Schooten Architecten; and West 8
Structural engineer: Arcadis and Gemeentewerken Rotterdam
Mechanical services: Arcadis and Gemeentewerken Rotterdam
Building physics: Arcadis and Gemeentewerken Rotterdam
Contractor: Bouwcombinatie TBI Rotterdam Centraal (BTRC) Iemants NV (zuidhal)