In the spring of 2011 BDP Khandekar, in close cooperation with the city of Tilburg and project developer Volker Wessels, completed the masterplan for the former railyard in Tilburg. The railyard area is located next to the main rail artery that cuts the city of Tilburg in half. The largest portion of the project area entails the transformation of the NS-railyard, where for more than a century and a half, trains were assembled and repaired. The closed character of this industrial complex has resulted in a barrier to the continuity of the urban fabric, and a purely single aspect development of the train station. Another part of the project area bears witness to a history of large, religious health care institutions, with a number of old buildings including a small monastery. A new, centrally situated tree lined avenue will connect both parts with the ring road around the centre of Tilburg. The masterplan aims to maintain the particular character of the area, while at the same time providing new connections and relations with the city.
Over the years, the NS railyard has developed into a remarkable, large complex intersected by numerous train tracks, home to a series of large halls and buildings that typify the eras they were built in. Characteristic for the Railyard is the spatial layout of the area, socalled ‘transversal’ halls. These can be described as a large number of halls, linear in nature, and constructed more or less back-to-back to each other. This ‘parade’ of halls is placed perpendicularly to the network of train tracks, that not only surrounds it, but often runs straight through it as well. The masterplan is inspired by this principle. Top-ups allow the existing buildings to intensify their program, making them part of the high density development of the area. New buildings will get a similarly sturdy and industrial character, referring to the scale and size of the large glazed locomotives hall, which will be preserved. Together, old and new buildings will form one ensemble: a new series of ‘halls’.
The industrial atmosphere of the area has been continued in the design of the public space. Train tracks, overhead lines and other sturdy elements of the area are re-interpreted in the completely redesigned public spaces. It is important that room for both motorists and cyclists is created, without competing with each other. Much attention has been paid to the southern side of the area, bordering the rail embankment, which in the future will become an important zone for pedestrians. Here, various small scale ‘rail gardens’ with amenities around them will create a variety to the linear structure of the tracks. A number of valuable tree groups will be preserved and given prominent positions in either courtyards or urban gardens.
A number of slow-traffic routes cross the area from north to south, connecting the project area and the adjacent neighbourhood of Theresia with the city centre. Two new tunnels underneath the rail tracks will be constructed: one at the station, and a second one, for cyclist, that connects to a long structural route through the city.
The characteristic roof of the station (‘de Kroepoek’), which most Dutch people automatically connect to the city of Tilburg, has played an important role in the plan development: in order to facilitate optimal views of it, and signal the entrance to the station, a large, open plaza has been designed on the northern side.
A proper transtition to the neighbouring, small scale Theresia quarter is created within the former religious area of the site. A housing neighbourhood will be built here, referring to old monasteries with its small streets, courtyards and visual view throughs. The scale of the buildings decreases towards the neighbouring areas, creating a good transition to the context.
The transformation of the 13 hectares large site will result in a significant densification. Over 220,000 square meters of program will be developed, 20,000 of which in the existing buildings. A combination of functions that introduce urban dynamics is imagined here, such as housing, working and urban amenities like a library, arts institutions and higher education.