On The Road!
At its most basic, TOD stands for the concentration of housing, employment and other facilities near railway stations and public transport stops. Many people think that TOD, by definition, is about building new homes and offices around transport nodes, with high-rise a looming spectre.
But as Hans de Boer, Paul Chorus and Jutta Hinterleitner show in their essay ‘De ontwerpresultaten in vogelvlucht’ (The Design Results in a Nutshell), TOD’s scope is much wider: it offers a varied programme with a solid mix of housing and commercial and service premises. This may require adding shops, offices, schools or hospitals, but it may also mean improving access to hiking and cycling routes from the station to the city centre or to recreational amenities. Most importantly, the local context is the starting point.
The concentration of spatial development around stations generates new travellers: people who either choose the station as their place of departure, or who have it as their destination. TOD thus reaches beyond the single station or railway line. It reaches out to the hinterland, to the region as a whole: this is where the majority of our movements take place. TOD can turn the Zaancorridor into a connecting link in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area mobility chain, and have it sustain metropolitan, urban development.
This book is the sequel to Maak Plaats! (Make Place) which was published towards the end of 2013. Whereas Maak Plaats! contained a detailed analysis of opportunities in the entire Province of North Holland, Onder Weg! (On The Road!) focuses on its most promising corridor, the Zaancorridor, which runs from Amsterdam to Heerhugowaard. Or rather: the other way around; the capital is the magnet that draws the early morning passenger flows, with massive numbers of commuters returning in the evening. The unbalanced use of the corridor is one of the problems that both professional design teams and student teams have been countering with their research by design.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the two books is this: rather than abstract, global analyses, Onder Weg! offers very concrete design proposals for correspondingly concrete locations. Designers visualize the spatial aspects of TOD, view different scales together and generate new ideas and insights. Moreover, they were instructed to not only look at the short term (‘archipunctural’ interventions for 2020), but also at the medium term (ground-breaking interventions for 2035) and the long term (a paradigmatic shift for 2065).
In his report Op ooghoogte (At Eye Level), Tijs van den Boomen gives an impression of the social conditions in the station areas that were the designers’ research objects: those of Heerhugowaard, Castricum, Krommenie-Assendelft, Koog-Zaandijk and Zaandam Kogerveld. However, the design studies also yielded many ideas for the corridor as a whole, the most eye-catching ones the ‘dumbbell model’ (concentration of the house-building challenge in Zaandam and in the ‘twin city’ Heerhugowaard-Alkmaar), and the downgrading of the highway between Uitgeest and Zaandam.
There is yet another way to look at the proposals: What can be said in general about the contribution that designers can make to TOD? Delft University of Technology’s Filip Geerts and Michiel Riedijk address this issue in their essay De doorsnede (The Cross Section). They conclude that a unique quality of research by design is that it yields strategies that do not arise directly from the programme of requirements. In the proposals, they identify barrier-busting, reinvention, re-routing and platforms turning into addresses.
At a higher abstraction level, both researchers point to the importance of the cross section to infrastructural challenges like TOD: the relationship between architecture and landscape can only be understood using the cross section.
Anne Luijten asked the region’s administrators what these designs can mean to the everyday use of the corridor. As it turns out, the administrators are very enthusiastic. To quote a Castricum alderman, for instance: ‘These plans prompt me to look at our hub in a different way.’ What is at least as important is that the designs turn out to be the ideal tool to facilitate communication among administrators, residents and travellers. A North Holland provincial executive put it this way: ‘Like visualized imagination, they illustrate the story. This triggers something.’ That is true even if the designs are not immediately applicable, says the councillor of Zaanstad appreciatively. ‘If you start out with things that are not feasible, the discussion naturally turns to what may well be feasible’.
The designs also help to give the stations their own signature and identity and thus create differentiation along the line. ‘Do not, for instance, build only dwellings at one end of the line, and only commercial premises at the other,’ says NS’s regional director, ‘obviously, we would rather transport people than hot air.’ In the absence of binding agreements, enticement is more important at this point. And designs prove formidable weapons of enticement.
Overview Design Proposals
Heerhugowaard Student Team
The Archipelago Route – Stepping Stones from the Polder through the Station to the Mall
Heerhugowaard is a collection of islands that barely enter into relationships with each other. To break open the isolation of the islands, a new slow traffic route is created in the residual spaces between them, running from the agricultural area north of the station to the mall in the heart of the city.
Five objects mark the new route and forge the isolated islands together into an attractive archipelago.
Heerhugowaard Design Team 1
MRA Heerhugowaard – Heerhugowaard as Part of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area
By extending the High Frequency Rail Programme (PHS) to include Heerhugowaard, the city becomes a full part of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area (MRA). The regional function of Heerhugowaard is enhanced by adding housing and facilities.
Economically, the station area currently mainly focuses on care and education; agribusiness, alternative energy and tourism will be added. The station area and the south tangent will be radically overhauled to facilitate slow traffic and public transport and to enhance the residential quality. The south tangent will thus grow into a horizontal landmark.
Heerhugowaard Design Team 2
Fields of Chances – Opportunities for Growth on Polder Plots
To prevent the Zaancorridor, a ribbon along historical landscapes, from collapsing under development, building between Amsterdam and Alkmaar is no longer allowed. Growth is met by the twin city Heerhugowaard-Alkmaar, which is becoming the second city in the Zaancorridor after Amsterdam.
The planning structure provides a good basis for further urbanization of the twin city. Heerhugowaard is to have a new type of open-structured station, which will have its effect on the rest of the city.
Castricum Student Team
Celebrating the Interface – The Town Meets Dune Station
It is not the station itself that is the biggest barrier between the village and the dunes: it is the railway track and the supporting facilities that set the two worlds apart. To restore the visual connection between the dunes and the village, the existing platforms and the roof can remain as they are, while the station forecourts and associated facilities, such as bicycle sheds, are reconstructed on a lower level. That way, the public space is extended from one side of the track to the other.
Castricum Design Team 1
Landscape Oriented Development – Growing a Natural Hub
The exceptional position of Castricum, literally on the interface between peat meadows and dunes, invites the use of the landscape as a basis for spatial development. The focus is on fortifying recreation, tourism and nature, with features like a natural cemetery, a watchtower and natural swimming pool. The infrastructure also blends into the landscape, with a dune tram, a barefoot trail and a zip line.
In the long term, Castricum will become an exclusive residential enclave for people who love nature and seek out the fringe of the metropolis.
Castricum Design Team 2
Vista by the Sea – A Leisure Destination in the Metropolitan Region
To strengthen the physical and psychological connection between the village and the dunes, new functions must be realized perpendicular to the railway track, rather than along it. This implies, among other things, the decentralization of recreational facilities along existing country roads perpendicular to the track, the construction of east-west connections for cyclists beneath the track, and making the semi-public areas such as the cemetery and the sports field traversable. It also means felling the trees on the dune side of the station and permitting hospitality industry in the archaeology centre ‘Huis van Hilde’.
Krommenie-Assendelft Student Team
Station Through the Façade – Create Visible Infrastructure and Add Connections
In the past, solutions focused on sub-problems, creating a disjointed area that constituted a strong barrier. This design therefore does not add any solutions, but digs away the soil on one side of the railway track to facilitate the realization of slow traffic connections in all directions. At the same time, old solutions – such as the skeleton of the bike ramp, parts of the tunnel and the railway itself – are made visible.
Krommenie-Assendelft Design Team 1
Park Assenie – Snippets of Green Give Way to Track Park
The Krommenie-Assendelft railway track zone is transformed into an elongated, central park that connects the landscapes to the east and west of the village. The N203, which runs parallel to track and park, will be downgraded to a park street that will be easier for pedestrians to cross.
The realization of this large park allows for the removal of the thumbnail parks north of the track. These areas can be used for densification.
To underline the recreational potential of the park and of the Zaancorridor as a whole, cycling routes are planned for the near and distant future.
Krommenie-Assendelft Design Team 2
Station Market – From Transfer Machine to Metropolitan Meeting Point
Train and car transport will in the long term merge into a coherent system of unmanned vehicles (Personal Rapid Transport, PRT) that will need much less space. In North Holland alone, an area 2.5 times the size of Haarlem will thus become available for transformation.
In the short term, the public space to the north and south of the Krommenie-Assendelft station will be made more coherent. In the medium term, there will be room for new functions in the area: sports and leisure facilities, water storage and small-scale private or collective food production.
Once the PRT network is completed, the station will lose its transfer function and become a marketplace new-style, a collective meeting point between the metropolis and people’s living and working environments.
Koog-Zaandijk Student Team
The Artefact – Use the Infrastructural Wasteland
The provincial road, the railway track and the bike paths form a broad infrastructural bundle that has created elongated wastelands. Interventions in these wastelands should ensure that their accessibility is increased (in north-south direction), and that perpendicular connections arise (east-west).
The interventions, which are related as to the use of materials and construction method, include a promenade along the cemetery, a crossover, a new entrance to the station in the north, and ramps for bike paths and cycle sheds.
Koog-Zaandijk Design Team 1
Scenarios on the Zaan – Interventions in the Short Term, Strategic Choices in the Long Term
Scenarios make it possible to identify the consequences of (political) choices and formulate a widely supported plan. The study successively addresses: the New Zaan Economy (existing industry gives way to high-density mixed use areas), Industry on the Zaan (existing industry continues to grow; compacting and optimizing existing neighbourhoods) and Zaan’s Green (preservation of the green and recreational character, industry gives way to dwellings in parks).
In the short term, no-regret interventions are planned that do not block any of the scenarios: add homes in the Zaan style, strengthen the Zaan’s identity, promote tourism and tackle the barriers.
Koog-Zaandijk Design Team 2
The Zaan Zapper – Metro Bus to Replace Sprinter Train and Car
The Zaan Zapper is a system of metro buses to replace the Sprinter trains. Both the number of stops and the frequency of public transport thereby increase considerably, improving the accessibility of the neighbourhoods.
Car traffic is pushed back, and the current provincial road is transformed into an urban boulevard, which will function as a catalyst for urban intensification. There is room for 12,000 dwellings within a 250-m radius around the stops of the Zaan Zapper.
If there are no more Sprinter trains, the desired frequency increase of intercity trains can be realized on the existing track. Thanks to the Zaan Zapper, it is no longer necessary to create fly-overs at the intersections of the main road and the track.
Zaandam Kogerveld Student Team
The Shortcut – A Modern Elephant Path as a Catalyst
The Shortcut focuses on the improvement of the connection between the existing dwellings and the station, rather than on additional housing. Adding bike paths and pedestrian trails to the bridge over the river Zaan and enlivening the strip between the bridge and Zaandam Kogerveld station creates a short, attractive slow-traffic route, which entices more people to use public transport and at the same time greatly improves the environment.
Zaandam Kogerveld Design Team 1
Things to Think About – The Station as Energy Hub and Transfer Point
The orientation of the station is reversed. If the platforms are ‘folded’ westward, the station will henceforth face the water to serve as a connection between the Zaan and the Waterland. The Noordervaldeursloot is re-dug and the lock restored, to literally reconnect the Zaan and the landscape.
The abandoned industrial buildings will accommodate clean, innovative industrial and service companies. The buildings on the Zaan will be densified, the Kogerveld and Oostzijderveld districts, on the contrary, will become more spacious. An air route between the station and hospital will ensure that the railway track no longer constitutes a barrier.
Zaandam Kogerveld Design Team 2
Flow Control – Rationalization of the Traffic Structure, Livening up the City
In the short term, the access road from the A7 will be downgraded to a city street and Zaanstad will be given a clear ladder structure. A green living, working and recreational area can subsequently be developed on the sports fields south of the station.
The next step consists of closing two dead-end railway lines (Zaancorridor and the corridor to Enkhuizen) to form the Circle Line North Holland. Kogerveld then becomes one of the key locations in the regional network and can be densified based on the existing green and water structure. In the long term, the station is a link in the flows of people, goods, food, raw materials, energy and data.