Arnhem Central

At the North side of the central railway station in Arnhem a narrow, long stretched open plot divides two vastly different environments. On the South side the city’s transport hub with its adjacent business district bustles. The symphony of trains whizzing past and travelers making their way is inexhaustible, while at the North side of the station majestical mansion houses breathe tranquility. Here, the rhythm of daily life is more gentle, with the sound of solid wooden portals falling into their locks and the tender rustle of leaves on monumental trees. This project deals with the design of a multifunctional building on this very plot, within this diverse setting.

Date January 2017 • Client Private • Filed under Residential

Design Position

To design a building within two such differing surroundings is essentially to take position in what ratio building and surrounding allow to influence each other. There are three options. A new building can accept one of the adjacent vernaculars over the other (T.L. & T.R.), it can deny both and become autonomous (B.L.), or it can acknowledge the qualities of both vernaculars (B.R.). To my opinion the last option is the best, but it requires an understanding of the crucial, and maybe the only, similarity between the North and the South.

Scaling Public to Private

Built in different times, with different ideologies and different functions the only thing the two seem to have in common is scale. Not in that they possess the same scale, but in that they both possess it. Where the multi functionality of the building bridges the programmatic clash of the two environments, the design is to merely solve the clash of scales.

Floor Plans

As the building breaks down to six individually functioning parts, named communities in the above scheme, each part in turn exists of two houses and four studios. Two communities share a central stairwell, and each stairwell openly connects to the balcony of a studio. This gradation makes the building readable on a public and semi public scale and social on a community and private scale.

Inhabitable Commercial Space

The studios are flexible in that they allow to be used as living space, as well as commercial space. What is living space can be main office and what is bedroom can be meeting room. At night, when the lights are on and the volume of the building is visually less present, these stacked horizontal spaces speak the language of the office towers across from the train station.
  • Roof
  • Level 3
  • Level 2
  • Level 1
  • Ground Floor

Vertical Living

The houses on the contrary express a vertical use, similar to the manor houses they are surrounded by. For privacy purposes, each level is divided by a large facility cabinet. On the ground floor, where privacy is scarce, this cabinet is placed closely to the front facade. With the increase of privacy on each higher level, the cabinet jumps back 1200mm from the front facade, allowing activities like reading and studying on the first floor, guest- or children bedrooms on the second floor and full size bedrooms on the third floor.