Rotterdam will be one of the stations on High Speed Train route and will also be a station on the new Randstad Rail route. The station already has difficulty handling the current flow of passengers at peak hours, and passenger numbers are set to increase in the future. The prediction is that, in ten years time, between 70 and 80 million passengers will pass through Rotterdam Central each year. Change is therefore urgently required. A year ago Alsop Architects (then called Bureau Alsop & Störmer) were asked to draw up a master plan for the station district, bordered by the Stationsingel, Goudsesingel, Weena, Kruisplein and Statentunnel. Their task was to combine a 'high-grade transport hub' with a new addition to the city centre, an area that could accommodate residential, employment and 'urban entertainment' functions. Alsop came up with a plan in which ambience (the experience of the city), connection (how the various city areas are connected), and networks (the confluence of different modes of transport) form the guiding themes. Architect William Alsop called the current Stationplein 'Suicide Square'). According to him, a passenger emerging from the station runs the risk of being run over first by a bike, then a taxi, then a tram, after that a bus, then a car, and once again by a bike. So the master plan offers pedestrians plenty of space and attention. Rotterdam: from motor city to pedestrian paradise?

The master plan distinguishes four components: the Mobility Intersection, the Delftselaan, the Hofplein Quarter, and the Boulevards.

Mobility Intersection

The station will be more than a place where trains arrive and depart: it will be a transport intersection. Trains will continue to arrive at the same level as now, but passengers can exit the platforms to different levels. The current pedestrian tunnel underneath the tracks will be lowered one level and will mainly be used by passengers continuing their journey by metro or Randstad Rail. At ground level passengers can transfer to taxi, car, bus or bike. One level above is the so-called balcony. This 'flyover' enables passengers to walk from the station to the Westersingel. This route is not roofed over but is partially protected from the elements by the new glass, curved buildings on the Stationplein. All sorts of logistic and visual connections link the different levels. According to Alsop, it will always be clear where you are and where you're going, but the scheme also contains 'elements of surprise'.

Delftselaan

Now called Delftsestraat, this road will, once redeveloped, be a link in the route extending from the River Maas, along the Binnen Rotte waterway, to the Van Nelle Factory. It will be a traffic artery and, more importantly the designer says, a pleasant route for pedestrians and cyclists. Earmarking the buildings beside the Stationplein for cultural functions, will hopefully tempt companies to take office space on sites bordering the tracks. The postal sorting office will be retained.

Hofplein Quarter

This will be the location for office and residential development above the built-over tracks - high-rise and low-rise development set in green surroundings.

Boulevards

Alsop wants to give the Weena back to the people, or rather pedestrians. He proposes reducing the number of traffic lanes to two in each direction and lowering the tram underground. Running through the centre will be a green strip where, Alsop says, people can picnic. The hope is that passengers from Belgium heading for Amsterdam will, when passing Rotterdam, decide to disembark there the next time.