Livable energy nodes

A pattern language for densification and energy transition in train station areas in the Netherlands.

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The importance of train stations in the Netherlands is growing next to the numbers of passengers. The pandemic hampered the growth that could not be accommodated by the infrastructure. In Europe the future of rail looks bright, as it is essential to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, while in the Netherlands, train station areas were recognized as one of the main sites for densification until 2030, which aims to tackle the housing crisis.National ambitions are high, but at the same time there is no coherent national agenda for train stations. Municipalities are competing with each other, and stations acts as hubs of capital allocation rather than catalysts of sustainability transition. This results in growing disparities between small and large stations, and between Randstad and other regions. The disruption of the pandemic gives an opportunity to rethink this unsustainable, neoliberal development model.
The key proposal of this project is to turn around the dominant paradigm of train station areas. Nodes consuming fossil energy and hectic places oriented on business could evolve into hubs of green energy and livable, equitable neighborhoods. The place-node model established by Luca Bertolini (1996) should be reframed by adding the dimension of livability and energy, to address housing and climate crises.
A pattern language was chosen a method to integrate the observations from case studies, experience from practice, insights from literature, create a catalog of patterns - good practices, and apply it to site-specific design. Interrelated patterns forming a language offer more possibilities than a toolbox or a set of principles, and may help with decision-making and defining the program of a station area with multiple stakeholders.
Applying patterns is in fact programming a station area during workshops with relevant stakeholders. Four design scenarios are demonstrating this process and speculating on future-proof train stations. Short-term (2026) and long-term (2040) scenarios were explored in Amsterdam Sloterdijk and Bergen op Zoom. Designs in two different contexts of large and small station were then assessed by the framework developed from Bertolini’s model, in terms of node, livability, place and energy, demonstrating how could development according to a new paradigm look like.