Tilburg's solar-powered bus station shows the way forward for transportation design
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Tilburg's solar-powered bus station shows the way forward for transportation design

Dutch architectural firm cepezed designs a solar-powered bus station as a part of the revamp and re-haul of the transportation network in Tilburg, a city in the Netherlands.

by STIRworld Sep 03, 2019

While we watch and applaud every design-forward step in transportation design, be it greener vehicles, driver-less cars or such, nothing gets us more excited than a more realistic, and much needed push for sustainable infrastructure. And that is why this sleek, new bus station in Tilburg caught our eye. Just like the renovation of the train station and the new bicycle parkings in the railway zone, the bus station was designed by the Dutch firm, cepezed.

The new bus station is a part of the large-scale revitalisation of the Tilburg public transport hub wherein the new public transport facility generates its own energy.

  • The awning of the Tilburg bus station consisting of a steel framework covered with ETFE-foil provides covers not only the bus platforms and but additionally part of the buses thereby sheltering the travellers from extremities of the weather| Tilburg Bus Station| Cepezed| STIR
    The awning of the Tilburg bus station consisting of a steel framework covered with ETFE-foil covers not only the bus platforms but additionally part of the buses, thereby sheltering the travellers from extremities of the weather Image Credit: Lucas van der Wee; Courtesy of cepezed
  • The roof of Tilburg bus station designed by Cepezed has 2,690 square feet of solar panels that produce enough energy to power the lighting, digital signage and canteen for the staff | Tilburg Bus Station| Cepezed| STIR
    The roof of Tilburg bus station designed by cepezed has 2,690 square feet of solar panels that produce enough energy to power the lighting, digital signage and canteen for the staff Image Credit: Lucas van der Wee; Courtesy of cepezed

The basic set-up consists of a series of very thin columns with an even, minimalistic awning structure on top of them. The construction forms a triangular circuit with a length of over 160 metres and an open space in the centre. The bus positions are arranged around the outer side; six for boarding and one for de-boarding. The awning circulation runs from 14 to 30 metres in width and has two offsets in its contour. These are primarily functional and align with the urban context, but visually, they also resonate elegantly with the monumental roof structure of the train station.

The Tilburg bus station forms a triangular circuit with a length of over 160 metres and open space in the centre| Tilburg Bus Station| Cepezed| STIR
The Tilburg bus station forms a triangular circuit with a length of over 160 metres and open space in the centre Image Credit: Lucas van der Wee; Courtesy of cepezed

The roof has an articulated structure, and moreover, seems to float, just like the bus station awning. The setoffs divide the overall structure into three segments. In the centre of every segment, there is green foliage surrounded by a sitting ledge for the travellers. On the wide end of the circuit, the centre additionally contains a pavilion. This houses a staff canteen for the bus drivers, a public transport service point and a commercial space. An elevated terrace adjoins this commercial space.

The spacious awning all around fully covers the bus platforms and additionally part of the buses. Thus, travellers can always board and de-board sheltered and protected from rain. The structure consists of a steel framework covered with ETFE-foil. The lighting is fitted above this foil. During the day, the awning filters the sunlight, while during the dark hours, it becomes one large and spacious lighting element that strongly adds to the travellers’ feeling of safety. 250 m2 of solar panels lie atop of the awning. In strong daylight, these cast a shadow pattern on the ETFE that makes the travellers aware of their presence. The panels supply sufficient energy for all functionalities of the bus station, including the lighting of the awning, the digital information signs, the staff canteen and the public transport service point. The commercial space has its own energy circuit and energy metre.

The seating at the bus station consists of black pigmented concrete containing a number of seats executed in strip steel with integrated heating | Tilburg Bus Station| Cepezed| STIR
The seating at the bus station consists of black pigmented concrete containing a number of seats executed in strip steel with integrated heating Image Credit: Lucas van der Wee; Courtesy of cepezed

Based on considerations regarding aesthetics as well as comfort, functionality and the use of materials, a lot of attention was paid to a set-up, materialisation and detailing that is as elementary as possible. Cepezed conceived a clear and pure system for the bus station and engineered it meticulously. For example, the thin columns composed of steel plates and strips also contain water drainage and electric cabling. The S.O.S button and intercom are also integrated into one of the columns. The folded sheet steel that functions as the central load-bearing stability beam also functions as a gutter. The lighting of the terrace adjoining the pavilion is integrated into the beams spanning the awning structure at that point. The seating consisting of black pigmented concrete containing a number of seats is executed in strip steel with integrated heating. The drainage holes in the load-bearing gutter are also used for fixation of the stretched ETFE-foil, while the digital information displays are invisibly fastened. The pavilion has a function in the overall stability of the awning. Also, movement sensors have been integrated into the steel edge of the awning every 14 metres. These respond to the presence of busses and people so that the lighting is sufficient in every situation, while the use of energy is kept to a minimum.

  • Conceptual Sketch – Tilburg Bus Station | Tilburg Bus Station| Cepezed| STIR
    Conceptual Sketch – Tilburg Bus Station Image Credit: Architectenbureau cepezed
  • Conceptual Sketch – Tilburg Bus Station | Tilburg Bus Station| Cepezed| STIR
    Conceptual Sketch – Tilburg Bus Station Image Credit: Architectenbureau cepezed
  • Movement sensors have been integrated into the steel edge of the awning of the Tilburg bus station every 14 metres, which respond to the presence of buses and people and thereby optimising energy usage | Tilburg Bus Station| Cepezed| STIR
    Movement sensors have been integrated into the steel edge of the awning of the Tilburg bus station every 14 metres, which respond to the presence of buses and people, and thereby optimising energy usage Image Credit: Lucas van der Wee; Courtesy of cepezed

The bus station was also designed for inclusiveness. For example, the elevated terrace can be reached by wheel chairs through a ramp and the hand rails between the terrace and the platforms have been provided with braille signing. The ETFE foil of the awning is self-cleaning and hardly needs any maintenance. For service on the solar panels and electrical equipment, the awning circulation is easily accessible via the pavilion and a walkable cable gutter. The overall unornamented design with a minimum of edges and corners reduces the costs for cleaning. Additionally, for the future, the bus station is already prepared for the placement of extra electrical equipment that can quickly charge electrical buses.

  • Site Plan | Tilburg Bus Station| Cepezed| STIR
    Site Plan Image Credit: Architectenbureau cepezed
  • Ground Floor Plan | Tilburg Bus Station| Cepezed| STIR
    Ground Floor Plan Image Credit: Architectenbureau cepezed
  • Awning Construction Details | Tilburg Bus Station| Cepezed| STIR
    Awning Construction Details Image Credit: Architectenbureau cepezed
  • Construction Components | Tilburg Bus Station| Cepezed| STIR
    Construction Components Image Credit: Architectenbureau cepezed
  • Awning Details | Tilburg Bus Station| Cepezed| STIR
    Awning Details Image Credit: Architectenbureau cepezed

Project Details

Name of the project: Tilburg bus station
Location: Tilburg, Netherlands
Area of Gfa building: 160 m en 30 m (at widest point) | 108m² bvo
Design phase: October 2016 – September 2017
Construction phase:March 2018 – March 2019
Architect: architectenbureau cepezed, Delft
Structural engineering: IMd Raadgevende Ingenieurs, Rotterdam
Consultant mechanical and electrical engineering: Nelissen Ingenieursbureau b.v., Eindhoven
Consultant building physics, fire safety and sustainability: Nelissen Ingenieursbureau b.v., Eindhoven
Landscape architect/ Urban planner: Atelier Quadrat, Rotterdam
Lighting: Atelier LEK, Rotterdam
Main contractor: BAM Infra bv, Gouda
Contractor steel construction: Buiting Staalbouw, Almelo
Contractor installations: Hoppenbouwers Techniek, Udenhout
Etfe roof: Buitink - Technology, Duiven
Sustainability: 250 m² of solar panels on the roof; yield = NOM (zero use on the electric bill)

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