Unterm Polycarbonathimmel: Bahnhofsumbau in Ostende
Foto: David Boureau
Many of the imposing entrance buildings once erected at great cost at railway stations play just a secondary role in modern-day station operations. This was the case at the sub-end terminal alongside the harbour in the Belgian coastal city of Ostend, where the main building constructed next to the railway lines in 1913 no longer had much relationship to the rest of the facilities. People arriving at the station merely have the choice of continuing by ferry across the Channel, or of taking the Kusttram, the coastal streetcar that links the towns and cities on the Belgian North Sea coast over a length of 67 kilometres. Over the decades the station has seen the growth of an increasingly confusing mix of ancillary buildings and parking lots, all of which had ended up in urgent need of disentanglement. The large-scale Station aan Zee project was accordingly launched in 2012, and with completion of the new platform canopy by Dietmar Feichtinger Architectes has now reached a new milestone.
The project concerns over 20,000 square metres of covered space, including a new canopy over the platforms and the streetcar stop, an underground bicycle garage offering 770 bike slots, and a four-storey parking garage erected alongside the tracks. The platform canopy and parking garage are both constructed in steel. Covered in translucent polycarbonate panels, many in different colours, the large, sawtooth-type canopy is supported by a grid of steel beams set 17 metres apart. This grid in turn rests on slender columns consisting of four steel tubes pin-jointed at the base and fixed in a torsionally-rigid manner at the upper ends to the roof.