When Noor Debets and Edward Voogt started their work several years ago, the plan was for the renovated Amsterdam Zuid station to become a sustainable building. ‘The problem with design processes that last a long time is that the technologies and environmental requirements change as you’re working’, says Voogt, project manager for station installations. ‘We’d already incorporated a lot of sustainability aspects into the design. For example, the new station will make use of residual heat and residual cold – heat and cold released elsewhere and no longer wasted because it’s actually used. But the plans have become even more ambitious over the course of time. We’ve now added solar panels. As a result, the new station will generate much of its own energy.’
Green ‘fifth façade’
This was not as easy as it may seem. In a place as full as Zuidas, where exactly do you put your solar panels? There were only limited options for positioning them between the tracks or on noise barriers. It was also difficult on the platform roofs, says structural physics consultant Noor Debets. ‘We considered the option of covering the roofs with them. These are four huge surfaces with the potential to produce a lot of power. But that would have been to the detriment of another function that we have in mind for the platform roofs. We’re actually planting them with sedum. This planting will be a defining element within the overall station design and the area around it. And because the tall buildings on either side look out at them, we also call these roofs ‘the fifth façade’. In addition, the plants will retain water in the event of heavy rainfall rather than draining directly into the sewer. As a result, we’ve opted for a solution that maintains the overall green concept while also enabling the efficient use of solar panels. The panels will be in the edges of the platform roofs.’
Voogt is currently working on the finer details. It is hoped that the detailed plans will be submitted to Environmental Services by mid-September 2021, after which an environmental permit is expected to be issued. Voogt: ‘At the moment, we’re working out how to install the solar panel system. Incorporating it into the existing design means that these will not be standard solar cells, but thin, flexible panels that match the shape of the roof. This will ensure that the roof design otherwise remains intact.’ Voogt is also exploring how to connect the solar panel system to the energy supply. ‘For that, we will need transformers: the generated energy will be direct current and it needs to be converted to alternating current. There also needs to be space for the transformers under the roof. We’re looking for a solution for incorporating them.’
Debets is enthusiastic about the improved sustainability of the station design. ‘It’s set to become a green zone in a built-up area, it will have low energy consumption and we’ll be generating renewable energy using district heating, district cooling and using solar panels. Overall, that’s quite a comprehensive package. Voogt: ‘All of us are aiming to build a station that’s as sustainable as possible, despite the fact that the possibilities and requirements are changing as time passes. With this addition of solar panels to the design, we’ve made great progress in our efforts to achieve that.’
Text: Hilde Postma
This is the fourth in a series about the work behind the scenes on the renovation of Amsterdam Zuid station. The first article was about the design of pedestrian routes. The second was on the subject of the platform entrance design. The third was about the tiling. Amsterdam Zuid station will become the Netherlands’ fifth largest station, after Amsterdam Central, Utrecht Central, Rotterdam Central and Schiphol Airport. How do you turn a mainly local station into a true public transportation hub?