ECCS Steel Award 2021
More than a century has passed since King Leopold II bestowed his vision upon the Oostende train station, fittingly named the “Queen of Coastal Cities.” Just as the city itself has expanded, this station has evolved into a bustling transport hub where each day, a multitude of passengers embark on trains, trams, buses, ferries, and cruise ships.
Over the years, the influx of travelers has necessitated a complex infrastructure, resulting in a labyrinthine amalgamation of structures and parking spaces. This chaotic tapestry hindered further development. In response, the studio embarked on a venture to rejuvenate this unique coastal station, establishing it as a premier transportation hub.
In 2012, the ambitious “station aan zee” project was launched, aiming to revive and revitalize the station and its surroundings. The revitalization efforts included a range of transformations:
Redesigning parking and tram facilities. Thoughtfully restoring the historic train station. Introducing modern platforms. Creating an expansive ‘Canopée’, covering platforms, tram/bus stations, and cycle parks. Simplifying waterfront structures to facilitate pedestrian movement. Relocating the tram depot to a former harbor zone. Enhancing the station plaza’s aesthetics.
In 2019, the former tram stop made way for bicycle parking spaces at Level -1, bathed in natural light and ventilation, made possible by elegant circular atria. The open expanse under the grand roof established a visual link between the platforms and the station’s storied edifice. The tram station was strategically shifted closer to the main train station, complemented by a neighboring multi-tier car park.
The ‘Canopée’ stands as a tribute to the fusion of functionality and beauty. This transparent roof, encompassing stairways, lifts, and signboards, offers unobstructed vistas from the station building to the platforms. Constructed using polycarbonate panels on a steel framework, it diffuses light, minimizing glare and UV exposure, while mirroring the hues of the sky.
The graceful pillars of the structure converge to form robust beams, offering stability while accommodating thermal expansion. Cross beams seamlessly support the polycarbonate sheets, enhancing stability and fluidity in design.
Adjacent to the platforms, a newly erected structure houses a car park and SNCB offices, providing space for 670 vehicles and presenting a protective façade to the city. Its mesh pattern allows natural ventilation while shielding against intense sunlight.
The new Oostende train station effortlessly marries history with progress, confirming the city’s dedication to advancement while cherishing its rich heritage.
Lead Architect: Dietmar Feichtinger Architectes
Structural Consultants: Technum, Eurostation