Tram Square Purmerend Shows us What it Means to Design with Integrity
Article by Eleni Tsirintani – Tram Square area in Purmerend by NEXT Architects & Rietveld Landscape, in Purmerend, Netherlands.
Tram Square, or Tramplein in Dutch, is located along one of the main accesses to the town of Purmerend next to one of the canals crossing the city, the Noordhollandsch Kanaal. The Square has been designed by the Amsterdam-based office, NEXT Architects.
Purmerend is a town in the North of Holland. It is surrounded by *polders, the characteristic entities of Dutch landscape indicating reclaimed land surfaces. Therefore water has always been present as a limit/defining element of the landscape. This condition has also affected the Tram Square design.
*A polder is a tract of low land, especially in the Netherlands, reclaimed from the sea or other body of water and protected by dikes.
The architects had to come up with creative answers to some rather difficult questions when designing the project, such as:
- How to come up with a design that would be consistent and coherent and would also combine many important urban elements such as bus stops, benches, litter boxes, information signs, advertisements, bike parking, etc
- How to create architecture that would not impose itself on its historical surroundings and the adjacent, amazing Bridge (Melkwegbridge), also designed by NEXT Architects?
- How to incorporate function and identity in one single design?
There were many issues that demanded to be resolved. The answer however was very simple; “Design Integrity”.
Their goal was to maintain a wide perspective, use an architectural concept as a tool and still remain flexible and open to possibilities.
Many would wonder how a bus station, a gas station and a bicycle parking unit can actually be combined in a single design gesture. One should keep in mind that this is what architecture is all about; to provide order, coherency and meaning to space.
The Bus Station
The existing roof of the bus station has been maintained. However it has been moved to the center of the surface, parallel to the canal to accommodate circulation on both sides.
The functions sheltered there, like the waiting area, the ticket office, and the driver’s residence have been renovated and unified with the use of tiles and glass.
The architects have worked with visual artist Merel Noorlader to design the glass walls around the central station. A collage of historical images places the structure into its context while allowing for transparency and visibility towards the road and the canal.
There is infinite creativity even when it comes to bus stops. The following LAN article shows a great example with a good sense of humor too; “A Bus Stop You Will Never Miss”
The Linear Element
A linear element unfolding along the street accommodates all small-scale facilities like signage, litter bins, benches, and advertisements.
The length and the materials used create a large object that works as an equivalent to the rest of the design elements.
The linear construction defines the Square’s edge and forms the limit along the street.
The Covered Bike Parking
The covered bike parking has been allocated in the north part of the site. The bike parking level has been submerged.
This submersion creates a milder visual impact of the bikes and allows for the creation of a viewpoint on the bike parking roof. An urban balcony facing towards Tram Square and the Canal has been formed.
The comfortable flight of stairs on both sides makes access towards the viewpoint easy. A curved bench in the center provides the visitor with a place for relaxed reverie towards all directions. The wooden deck gives the impression that the visitor is on a boat, floating right next to the water. The bike parking shapes the limit between the square and the adjacent gas station.
The water edge along the Square has been shaped into a contemporary, linear space that allows for water proximity and relaxation by the canal.
The Melkwegbridge, though not part of the Square design, plays an important role in shaping its character.
The Bridge has been divided into two distinct elements. One part serves as pedestrian circulation and it reaches 12m above water level, shaping a dynamic curve, and the other part forms a Z-shape on the horizontal level to ensure a mild slope for bicycles and small vehicles.
The Bridge provides a sense of verticality, complementing the horizontal lines of the Square design. Furthermore it invites circulation in the heart of the square and a better sense of human scale and movement in a space dominated by large vehicles.
It is no coincidence that the two projects combine so well together. They both have been designed by NEXT Architects.
Tramplein proves that there are no dull projects. Creativity and design integrity could be discovered in every design process. So, next time you have an assignment that does not look interesting or challenging, look more carefully; high-quality design can emerge everywhere!
Full Project Credits For The Tram Square Purmerend :
Project: Tram Square Purmerend
Design: NEXT Architects & Rietveld Landscape
Location: Purmerend, Netherlands
Date of Completion: 2016
Client: Municipality of Purmerend
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Article by Eleni Tsirintani
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