Berry began walking to the opposite end of the station. He had never been here before, but he felt like he ‘knew’ where he was going and exactly how to get there. Just then, a friendly voice rang out. It was Jarko: “So… What do you think then?”

Before Berry could answer, the world around him evaporated and he found himself standing in Royal HaskoningDHV’s office in Utrecht. Jarko removed the virtual reality goggles he’d been wearing; it was time to give his feedback to the team… 

A station in need of transformation

Located in the heart of the Netherlands, the city of Ede has a population of almost 120,000 and is famous for its proximity to the Hoge Veluwe National Park – a 55 km² natural haven of heathlands, sand dunes, and woodland. The Ede-Wageningen train station, in the eastern part of the city, acts a gateway to Hoge Veluwe and is the first sight, of many, that people behold when they arrive in Ede. 

The station’s project management team has big expectations and bold ambitions – with a vision to act as a green hub for the rest of the Netherlands and embed sustainable transport for years to come.

But one thing was standing in their way. Marielle Minderhoud, a colleague of Berry’s who used the station as a student, explains: “At Ede-Wageningen, the choice is wide and there’s trains that can connect you to the rest of the country and beyond. However, it’s no secret that it’s in desperate need of an upgrade – everything looks old and outdated, and it always feels too crowded and congested.”  

All aboard 

This tale of repair and renovation was expanded upon by Berry and Marielle over video call. Both work for ProRail – a Dutch government organisation that works to embed safe, reliable railway networks.  

In 2008, their organisation first held talks with Nederlandse Spoorwegen – a passenger railway operator in the Netherlands – and the Municipality of Ede to transform the Ede-Wageningen station and ensure it could support growing passenger numbers.  

Berry, dialling in from his office in Utrecht, said: “We embarked on this journey with Nederlandse Spoorwegen and the Municipality of Ede because we knew the station and the area around it needed to be improved. Each organisation involved had a unique set of needs – so they were looking for a partner to align their vision.”  

A Garden of Ede  

Jarko van Nunen was a Project Manager at Royal HaskoningDHV and had spent 25 years working on and around train stations. His colleague, Kirsten Colenbrander, an Architect – has 12 years’ experience designing some incredible railway projects across the Netherlands.  

With their combined knowledge, they knew the Ede-Wageningen project promised to be extra-special when they saw it up for tender. Jarko says: “The brief looked challenging and involved the whole package – from engineering, sustainability, and technical design, to architecture and technology. We have the benefit of being able to bring all these services together under one roof – but we don’t often get the chance to realise them all in one project – it was an exciting opportunity to show what we could do.” 

It’s said that challenge brings innovation and so Jarko, Kirsten and the rest of the Royal HaskoningDHV team set about brainstorming an approach that would deliver the station transformation Ede deserved.   
You don’t go to train stations voluntarily – you go there if you have to travel somewhere... With this project, we turned the tables and wanted to create a place to be, rather than just a place to go. 

Kirsten Colenbrander

Architect

Working together as one 

The Royal HaskoningDHV team’s skills and expertise shone through, as Jarko noted: “This was going to be a very challenging project – there was a lot we needed to consider. We needed an expert in wide-ranging disciplines – including architecture, design and technology, as well as sustainability experts, ecologists, energy and more. Collaboration internally, and externally, would be key.”

With Royal HaskoningDHV on board, the project quickly evolved and began to take shape. Previously, an architecture firm, Mecanoo had started the station’s designs – but with the Royal HaskoningDHV team on onboard, they were handed over to Jarko and Kirsten to enhance and perfect. There were times when grand plans turned grander – but the team ensured the project stayed realistic and achievable, as well as fitted each organisation’s needs.

Kirsten noted: “At the start of our journey, the project team had so many great ideas – but it was difficult to do them all due to time and cost. One part we desperately wanted to keep alive was the long stretch of part glass, part wood canopy that spanned across the station’s roof. This would ensure the station was an icon within the city.”  

Design meets functionality  

It was at the end of 2019 when the final designs were agreed. Inspired by the local Veluwe landscape, high quality materials – such as wood, stone, glass and steel – were used throughout to complement the natural surroundings, as well as existing buildings and monuments already constructed in Ede. And there’s no doubt these materials came together to create a project with the ‘wow’ factor.  

The canopy Kirsten was desperate to include is perhaps the showpiece – and consists of 24 triangles, each with sides 27-meters-long. The original triangle idea was from Mecanoo but the Royal HaskoningDHV team had well and truly made it their own. Mimicking a tree canopy and part glazed to let in an abundance of light, the wooden triangles were designed to suspend on different levels and be visually separate – free from support columns and each other. 

With a proud smile on her face, Kirsten said: “Functionality was at the core of design too. Our team embedded intuitive spatial wayfinding to improve passenger flows – enabling people to move around quickly and easily. Passenger safety and wellbeing didn’t get ignored either and we made sure that no matter where you were standing in the station, you could be seen by somebody. Now when it’s late or dark, you feel safe.”  

Showcasing all this to ProRail was where the team really had fun, as Berry remembers back to when 3D parametric design was used: “To help me understand what all this would look like in reality, Jarko had me wear some virtual reality goggles so I could tour the station – all while remaining at Royal HaskoningDHV’s office in Utrecht. It was incredible moving around in the VR and 3D world – and really helped me shift my perspective and give feedback to the team, as well as picture Ede-Wageningen in all its glory.”  

Not only did the 3D world help paint a picture of the station, but it also showed Berry how each part of the design would impact and affect the other – and was a real turning point. Berry finished: “It helped bring the station to life.”  

Building with innovation, people flows, and crickets… 

A journey to create something innovative and worthwhile is never without its obstacles. One standout moment, as Jarko looks back, was catering for a special group of local inhabitants… “In the Netherlands, we have a rare species of cricket called Spoorkrekel – it’s protected and only found in this part of Ede.” He continued: “So when designing the station, we had to make sure we didn’t endanger the species and actually ended up incorporating the old tracks into our design as a habitat for them.”  

And crickets weren’t the only occupant the team had to overcome… When bats were found in the existing station, Jarko and Kirsten had to adjust their design to keep a building in place to act as a bat cave, as well as adapt lighting in the area to accommodate them.  

Kirsten noted: “Building for a better future is always fun… You never know what’s round the corner.”  

Right on track 

Today, the project is under construction and is set to be completed in 2024. Meanwhile, the old station is still operational, with the construction work being done alongside it so people can continue to travel.  

Looking back, Jarko commented: “Now we’re in the final, advisory phase of the project, everyone knows their roles and is in sync with one another – and that makes this last part a pleasure to be involved in. I’m so lucky to have worked with such a great internal team too, across so many different disciplines. We became so close and there were even times when we would know exactly what the other was bringing in for lunch!”  

But this isn’t the end of our train station tale as Berry explains: “Jarko, Kirsten and the rest of the team have done a brilliant job. Plus, the next chapter is soon set to continue… The space around the train station was also included in our plans. This included the immediate area – the bus terminal, drop-off zone, and taxi and bicycle parking – and the wider city. With these contracts on the design table, we’re more excited than ever.”   

Thanks to the project, Ede will be able to attract more investment and local people can live more connected, fulfilled lives. Marielle finished: “What Ede-Wageningen needed was a little bit of time, energy, and love. Thanks to Royal HaskoningDHV, ProRail, Nederlandse Spoorwegen, and the Municipality of Ede, we’ve got all this and more and I can’t wait to see the new station when it’s ready.”  

It begs the questions, what else can we accomplish when we build with design, functionality, and Mother Nature’s fussy friends?   

By shifting perspectives, we enhance society together… 

Discover more Shifting Perspective Stories

Explore all our project stories where we shift perspectives to enhance society together.

Read all stories

Are you ready to work on projects that drive positive change?

We are always looking for talents who want to collaborate closely with colleagues, clients and stakeholders and offer a new perspective to illustrate the bigger societal and technological picture. Talents who uses their deep domain knowledge to shape innovative solutions to make the transition to smart and sustainable possible. All the while considering the ethical implications of these solutions, to ensure we are driving positive change at every level: globally and locally, for our today and our tomorrow.

Check out our vacancies