A grand station of international standing that successfully integrated all modes of public transport plus other transport (e.g. cycling) – and moreover successfully integrated the (re)development of the surrounding area.


Prime domain(s)
Mobility, Planning


Prime theme(s)
Urban mobility hubs


Additional theme(s)
Users & Services, Sustainability, Design & Identity


Related showcases
Holland Metropolis, Den Haag Centraal, Arnhem Station, Spoorbeeld, Image of Rail (Spoorbeeld), Public Transport Smart Card


Lead partner
DRS (temporary)


Second contact
None yet (future: DRS)


Extended summary
Rotterdam has a new Central Station. This public transport terminal is re-anchored in the city centre and integrated in the European network of transport hubs created by the arrival of the high speed rail system (HSL). A grand station of international standing is created. In the design, the city is drawn to the new station by compacting the small-scale urban fabric round about so that railway zone and city become a single entity. The finer texture with its new sight lines and the mix of living and working will greatly improve the social climate of this zone.

On entering the tall light-filled station concourse, travellers have an overall view and see at once where the trains are. The sunken and widened passage beneath the tracks is a natural continuation of the concourse. Platforms have a largely transparent roof some 250 metres long spanning the entire track zone.

The entrance on Spoorsingel is a modest one in keeping with the low-key residential area there and the smaller passenger flow. In stark contrast, the tall glass and timber concourse on the city side is clearly the main gateway to the metropolitan city centre. The new building’s shape expresses the internal logistics of this transport hub. Marking the onset of Rotterdam’s ‘cultural axis’, the new Grand Central Station points the way to the city’s heart.

(Text: Benthem Crouwel Architects)


Form (description)
Rotterdam Centraal is a world class, multi-modal station. It’s a piece of cutting edge architecture, but first of all a transport hub and urban centre. Hence, it’s a home for mobility and urban (re)development. It entails an elevated main station, an underground metro/light rail station, a tram station and bus station at grade, as well as an underground bicycle parking and car parking.


Operation (usage)
Rotterdam Centraal facilitates various transport operations, (inter)national high speed trains, national and regional trains, regional light rail, local public transport (bus, tram, metro), bicycle and car parking. Within the station various shops, facilities and amenities are operated.


Performance (result)
Rotterdam Centraal offers a functional, comfortable and safe environment for all passengers, clients and employees. Very likely it contributes to the boost of public transport (e.g. the massive success of the regional light rail service, and the high speed rail service), as well as the huge growth of cycling. Land and real estate values increased. Rotterdam Centraal represents a favourable condition for inward investments. Finally the station architecture features iconic properties.




Team CS has not only turned Rotterdam Central Station into a spectacular interchange machine, but has also reintegrated the station and its surroundings into the city.
Backgrounds of this showcase by Hank van Tilborg (Blauwe Kamer)
Project: Station and station area Rotterdam CS
Location: Rotterdam
Designers: station and outdoor space (Proveniersplein, Stationsplein, Esplanade and Kruisplein): Team CS (a collaboration between Benthem Crouwel Architekten, MVSA Meyer en Van Schooten Architecten and West 8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture); detailed design and specifications for the outdoor space: Rotterdam Municipal Council; Stationskwartier masterplan and design of bus shelters: Maxwan architects + urbanists with Rotterdam Municipal Council
Commissioned by ProRail; Rotterdam Municipal Council
Area >10 ha (Stationsplein >5 ha)
Development public transport terminal, bicycle storage, underground car park; redesign of public amenity space (Proveniersplein, Stationsplein, Esplanade and Kruisplein); new bus station roofs
Design period 2003–2014
Implementation period 2007–2014
Team CS has not only turned Rotterdam Central Station into a spectacular interchange machine, but has also reintegrated the station and its surroundings into the city.
Travellers to Rotterdam’s new Central Station can expect a grand reception. This is not just down to the iconic building, but also to the area outside the station which travellers pass through on their way to the city. In an interview with Spoorbeeld magazine, Jan Benthem, one of the architects of the new building, said that the redevelopment of the station – like the other stations that have been redeveloped for the coming of the high-speed train – was about ‘organising the chaos’ and that this requires a simple and highly legible design. Rotterdam CS is an urban transport hub where modal networks on different scales come together. ‘A characteristic of these projects is that the station square is brought indoors to create a gathering space that is great to be in. Of course, travelling is the main purpose, but the station also has a social function as a place to meet, shop and consume.’
The development is part of the ‘Key Projects’ development programme, along with five other station areas including Amsterdam, Utrecht and Arnhem. The plans were expressly not just about renewing the stations themselves, but included the redevelopment of the surrounding areas. The Dutch government made about 1.5 billion euros available for these key projects. Finance was also obtained from the municipalities and private parties, such as NS Vastgoed (the privatised Netherlands Railways real estate division) and property developers, which brought the total investment package up to several billion euros. The Rotterdam station project cost half a billion euros.
The story of the station project in Rotterdam began in June 2004 when Team CS – a project consortium consisting of the leading partners of Benthem Crouwel Architekten (Jan Benthem), Meyer en van Schooten (Jeroen van Schooten) and West 8 (Adriaan Geuze) – were commissioned to prepare plans for the new Rotterdam Central Station. From about 2025, when the high-speed train and RandstadRail light rail services will both be fully operational, the station will have to handle no less than 75 million passengers a year. The new station is not only bigger, but is also much easier to navigate and possesses international allure. It is the well-functioning mobility machine that the selection committee appreciated first and foremost. The new station was built in seven years, within budget, and was kept operational by carrying out the works platform by platform. The outdoor space was also continually altered to guarantee the safe flow of pedestrians, cyclists, cars, buses and taxis. The biggest challenge was integrating the station and surrounding area into the city centre. In its 2005 masterplan the Rotterdam practice Maxwan focused on a lively streetscape, good connections into the urban network and creating a sublime public space – centred on two squares, Kruisplein and Stationsplein. A crucial element of the plan in this regard is the addition of housing, hotels and recreational and commercial facilities.
With the development completed, the quality of the area has been improved beyond all recognition. For example, much of the through traffic from the busy Weena thoroughfare is channelled underground through two tunnels. One of the tunnels gives access to an underground car park beneath Kruisplein, a major city square near the station, which has space for 760 cars and will be linked to the car park under the nearby Schouwburgplein. As a result, the traffic on Stationsplein and Kruisplein is now calmer and the Weena is no longer a barrier between the station and the centre. A bicycle park for more than 5,000 bicycles underneath Stationsplein keeps the square free of bicycles, and the open character of the square has been heightened by moving the taxi ranks and bus shelters to Conradstraat and Delftseplein, and the tram stops to the side of the square. Of the five tramlines that used to cross the station square, only two remain. The entrances to the metro and the bicycle park are situated in the middle of the square.
Creating all this space in the square has made room for a major statement: moving from the station concourse in a southerly direction, Stationsplein turns into a pedestrian boulevard, with a carpet of natural stone paving linking the station to the city centre. This ‘esplanade’ is flanked by seven rows of V-shaped plane trees – according to Adriaan Geuze of West 8 a reference to the pillars supporting the station canopy – which stand in raised planters with polished concrete seating edges. These trees make a welcome contribution to the desired greening of the city centre. The plan also meets the water management objectives: a stormwater tank above the car park under Kruisplein is connected to the Westersingel canal and buffers the water level in the canal following heavy rainfall.
In complete contrast to the lively, big city feel of Stationsplein, with its natural stone esplanade, is the quieter green northern side of the station. According to the plan by Team CS, in future the tram route will be realigned to link Provenierssingel and Spoorsingel (two canals on the north side of the station) and will be flanked by green banks, and two new bridges will provide routes for mainly non-motorised traffic.
Maxwan also designed the bus station. The financial crisis meant that funds were only available for a ‘plain and functional’ design: the covered seating would be provided in the form of twelve standard bus shelters. Maxwan wanted to prevent the new station from being flanked by a series of bland and uninspiring boxes and so they came up with a unique roofing element for the same budget as the standard bus shelters. The city council accepted the offer, as long as the benches, walls and advertising panels were standard catalogue items. Maxwan worked on this for two years, and the selection committee are convinced the alternative was well worth waiting for. With their lightly curved wafer-thin steel roofs, the shelters are a striking addition to the square. Three roofs have already been erected, enriching the station area with their sculptural form and distinctive colour. The committee consider pink to be a daring choice, but say it works. An interesting detail is that the technique Maxwan finally chose for manufacturing the roofs was ‘cold moulding’, originally used in the shipbuilding industry. The metal has also been coated, which is almost unknown in architecture but commonplace in the offshore industry. It could not be more up Rotterdam’s street!


Yearbook landscape architecture and urban design in the Netherlands, 2014
Station Centraal, 2010 – Link to Google books


Gare du Mans (Le Mans, France), St Pancras Station (London, UK), Utrecht Centraal (Utrecht, Netherlands)


Foreign potentials
Station and main station projects in Europe and Asia (on the long run in America too).


Related projects and pilots
Main station Kaohsiung (Taiwan)




Other media
In preparation by DRS.


Image credits
Benthem Crouwel Architects
Blauwe Kamer / Jannes Linders and Filip Dujardin
RVDB Urban Planning


Rotterdam Centraal