Assen Station has been completely transformed thanks to an extraordinary wooden structure. The new station is defined by a triangular wooden roof that appears to float above the several buildings below. It connects the railway line and the city with a single urban gesture. The construction of a new car tunnel under the station square has allowed a traffic-calmed public space to be created around the station. The station was designed by De Zwarte Hond and Powerhouse Company on behalf of NS, ProRail and Assen city council. A new identity Assen Station was originally a transit station where the city remained invisible to travellers. The city of Assen therefore asked for a transparent and inviting station on the regional level, which would at the same time remove the barrier of the tracks on the neighbourhood level. De Zwarte Hond and Powerhouse Company designed the new station as an all-sided building – connective, transparent and sustainable – that is equally inviting from every angle. The impressive triangular geometry of the roof gives the building a strong identity, organises the programme and also makes a connection with the urban context. An artisanal wooden roof The 3,000 m² triangular roof is made entirely of wood. This is a first: the only example in the Netherlands to date of bridging train tracks with wood. The design team took their responsibilities seriously when it came to sustainability. The choice for a natural building material also fits in well with the green character of the city of Assen and its surroundings. The wooden roof creates an inviting atmosphere for travellers. Windows in the middle of the roof allow a play of sunlight on the platforms and in the station hall. The wooden roof is 10 metres high and has three uneven sides with lengths of 78, 88 and 90 metres. A sedum (green) roof surface has been added along the edges for buffering rainwater. For durability and easy maintenance, the columns and roof edges are finished in a coated metal finish in a champagne colour that harmonises with the wooden beams. By constructing the roof with freestanding columns, the programme beneath can easily be adapted. This sustainable design thus provides for future changes in passenger numbers and commercial facilities in the pavilions. The station as public plaza Under the wooden roof construction, detached buildings offer space for the commercial and station-related functions. A logical organisation of the functions results in an open and accessible station. The buildings have brick facades with rounded corners. The purple-red toned facing bricks match the red carpet of brick pavers and the red porphyry of the station floor. The station thus functions as a public plaza marking the beginning of the main route towards the city centre. Station area redesign The new station is not isolated. It forms the most eye-catching part of the Florijn Axis, the area development that promotes the accessibility and expansion of the city of Assen and improves the connection with Assen-Oost. The triangular station roof completely spans the newly expanded railway line and thus fulfils a key role in connecting the eastern and western districts. The complex transport flows of the station square have been resolved with a new platform tunnel for pedestrians, the restoration and shortening of the existing bicycle tunnel, a car tunnel and an underground bicycle shed for 2,600 bicycles. This has created a pedestrian-friendly station area with high-quality greenery, minimal impact from cars and a pleasantly human scale. With a connective architectural gesture in wood, Assen Station combines a grand and inviting entranceway with an optimal multimodal junction that connects the city with the region.
De Zwarte Hond is a design agency for architecture, urban design and strategy with offices in Groningen, Rotterdam and Cologne. Through a combination of social commitment and craftsmanship, we create high-quality projects. We design places, buildings and whole environments that look out of the ordinary. Conceived, rather than created; built to last and flexible enough to move on to a new phase of life in the future.
Yet our places always touch the heart. Designing and realising interwoven spaces, that’s the essence of our office: we unite architecture and urban design. Our projects enrich society, both economically and culturally.
We are convinced that a plan or design solves nothing in itself. At most, it can set the agenda or indicate directions for solutions. The point is that we actually know how to realise and implement. Of course, we’re committed to the design, but we also take responsibility for the process towards realisation.