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“Train Stations as Destinations”

CASE STUDY: St. Pancras Station, London, United Kingdom

An interview with Ben Ruse, director of HS1 (High Speed 1: high speed railway). In this case study Ruse will tell you something about St. Pancras International Station, the biggest train terminus in London. He will explain it’s course of time and their challenges, like the maintenance of the large railway station. Creating a commercial district within the building was nearly impossible but they managed to turn St. Pancras is a place for lingering, relaxing, and people watching. By explaining it’s solutions and secrets the reader gets insight in the improvement of the station through a course of time.

“We wanted people to fall back in love with this station. So we asked ourselves: If we make this station attractive enough, can we make it a destination in its own right? And the answer was: Yes.”

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p210a 87_IMG_5893_HQ St Pancras Station London UK Ben Ruse

Both images: St Pancras Station, London by Ben Ruse
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“Street Trade at Warwick Junction”

An article written by Richard Dobson and Tasmi Quazi, architect and consultant in Durban. They explain that the Warwick Junction is the main railway station and urban gateway of Durban, one of the biggest moteropolitan areas in South Africa.Located at the border of the city centre, during apartheid it was the sole entry to the city centre for the black population: a deliberate concentration of traffic flows from rural and semi-urban Durban into the ‘white city’. Roads, walkways and pedestrian bridges criss-cross the area, which is only 10 minutes form the city centre. Over 460,000 commuters pass through the transport node every day, making use of the main railway station, the five bus terminals and nineteen taxi stands. Additionally, the area attracts large numbers of street traders: between 6000 and 8000 street traders engage in a variety of activities ranging from traditional medicine, clothing, food, music, fresh produce, arts and crafts. These activities are present in 9 distinct markets and various peripheral locations within the public space.

“Due to years of apartheid planning that aimed to separate different ethnic groups, the Warwick Junction area was poorly designed. The ever-increasing number of traders caused congestion and crime was rife. When South Africa elected its first democratic government in 1994, transformation became the priority at all government levels.”

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Bovine Head Market at the Warwick Junction

p247b 83-5_HerbMarket Warwick Junction Durban South-Africa Richard Dobson and Tasmi Quazi

Herb Market at the Warwick Junction
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“Hofbogen; a Vision for the In-Between Plinth”

An article written by Henk Ovink, Senoir Advisator of the Hurricane Sandy National Spatial Planning for the Nederlands Ministry and co-editor of Design and Politics. The plinths in the city are the swinging doors between wet and dry, warm and cold, inside and outside. The plinth tells the story of the building as you enter it, or even before you go in, as its billboard, an advertisement of the inside. And at the same time the plinth reflects the city (sometimes literally) the power of the urban space, the place. The plinth is a border and at the same time, the membrane of the city; the swap space to look at, touch, and pass through.

“There are two scales for the Hofbogen line to fulfil this promise of urban reformer. On the scale of the city, it can re-connect the city centre with the surrounding landscape, by using the former rail track as a biking or hiking path. By rebuilding the mistakenly demolished bridge leading to it, the Hofbogen can become the connector to all layers and levels of the city.”

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Both images: Hofbogen Rotterdam ©Maarten Laupman
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“Underneath Rails and Roads”

An article written by Mattijs van ‘t Hoff, urbanist at STIPO. As places of interaction, cities need two features: infrastructure connections and meeting or gathering places. Historically, many cities were established on natural or manmade crossings such as rivers and roads, or grew from harbours. At these crossings, trading places with markets and inns developed into villages and later into cities. Streets and squares in these cities still bear names reminiscent of this past of trade and markets. Our cities today are still places of interaction in the global marketplace. Connecting and meeting face-to-face remains an important aspect of business development, innovation and social contact: firms need local buzz as well as global pipelines. Growing mobility demand however has changed many cities in nodes of infrastructure, forgetting the human scale and meeting places. By using the infrastructure constructions for the plinths of the city, we can provide new urban spaces and opportunities to interact and gather.

“We can use infrastructure to develop commercial, leisure, and cultural places and activities for the city, and use spaces underneath infrastructure as places for people to meet and to expand public space and public life. Even when the infrastructure becomes derelict (e.g. old train viaducts), they still can provide valuable space underneath and on top.”

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Cover image: A8ernA Zaandam ©JeroenMusch
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“Mixed-Use Makes Money in Office Parks”

An article written by Jeroen Jansen and Eri Mitsostergiou, both working for Savills. They explain that in 2010 their research team examined all four major office areas in the Netherlands. The results showed that the combined vacancy in mixed-use areas is considerably lower than in single-use office locations. They further analysed the submarkets and buildings in Amsterdam with the highest vacancy and identified four factors that relate most to vacancy rate. While distance to a major train station, distance to the city centre, and the perceived safety of the office areas were important, mixed-use turned out to be the number one deciding factor. Creating a lively public space by adding retail, restaurants, bars and other functions to the plinths of office buildings does seem to pay off.

“While combining different uses within an area does not pose challenges, per se, for developers and investors, bringing different functions together within one building does add elements of complexity and risk. Developers and investors perceive that mixing uses makes their job more difficult and leads to a decline in their investment.”

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A sunny summer lunchtime in Granary Square, King's Cross

Granary Square with the University of Arts in the historic building London UK © Kings Cross Central General Partner Limited via kingscross.co.uk
Cover picture: Arial picture of the development site London UK © Kings Cross Central General Partner Limited via kingscross.co.uk
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“A Developer’s Intuition”

A conversation with Frank van Beek, co-owner of Lingotto, about plinths. The vision of Lingotto is to realise good city districts. Van Beek explains that the company does not have a specific strategy to apply every time: each project is customized. Plinths can be an instrument to realise good and pleasant streets wherever necessary. Plinths are only possible at sites where they have potential and where it is appropriate: in city centres, along main routes or at street corners.ot on a back street as is sometimes required by municipal instructions.

“The important question in developing plinths is: which location has potential? There is not a way to calculate this; you need fingerspitzengefühl, or instinct. You have to look at walking routes, busy streets but not too busy; it must be a pleasant atmosphere to walk along.”

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p189b 41-4_CoffeeC1_HQ Amsterdam Frank van Beek

Coffee Company ( Meester Treublaan, Amsterdam) by Frank van Beek
Cover picture: Restaurant Dauphine (Prins Bernhard-plein, Amsterdam) by Frank Beek