Benthem Crouwel Architects are the design studio behind award-winning train stations in Rotterdam, Amsterdam, and The Hague. According to the concept of the winning design, the new railway station will become a new gateway to the city and a positive impetus for the development of the emerging Trnitá district on the banks of the River Svratka. Brno residents will get a modern rail hub with sufficient capacity to guarantee further development of railway transport from the city.
The decision of the expert jury, which included architect Eva Jiřičná and urban planner Peter Gero, was approved this week by the City of Brno and the Railway Administration. As the organizer of the competition, the Brno City Architect’s Office will exhibit all the submitted designs at the Brno New Town Hall at the end of September.
According to Benthem Crouwel Architects, the design incorporates smooth integration into the city’s public transport network and enrichment of public life in the new district, intended to be a comfortable and easy place to live and travel, with a range of transfer options and an iconic design for the station itself that strengthens the identity of the city of Brno, while also being functional and looking like a train station.
“In the opinion of the jury, the winning design combines a reference to historic public buildings with a modern interchange and quality public space,” said the City Architect Michal Sedláček, a member of the jury. “It emphasizes the Brno genius loci and a careful assessment of the practical functioning of the new station building and its surroundings.” According to Sedláček, during the competition the jury recommended some refinements to the design to meet the strict requirements for the new station.
The award-winning main train stations in Rotterdam, Amsterdam or The Hague are all connected by their author – the Benthem Crouwel Architects studio. “The authors of the winning proposal will play a supervisory role in the processing of the project documentation for the new building. They will guarantee that, when completed, the new train station will not only be the pride of South Moravia, but also a place the passengers will be able to truly enjoy. The new main train station building is currently expected to be completed sometime between 2032 and 2035, when a part of the new Trnitá district will be completed as well,” says Mojmír Nejezchleb, Deputy Director General for Rail Modernisation from the Railway Administration.
Smooth integration into the city network and improved public life in the new district, comfortability and ease of use with excellent interchange options and a presentable building that strengthens Brno’s identity. This is how the winners of the international competition from the Benthem Crouwel Architects studio imagine the new main train station in Brno.
“In the jury’s eyes, the winning proposal combines the heritage of historic public buildings with the idea of a modern interchange hub and quality public space. It emphasizes the genius loci of Brno and carefully solves the practical functioning of the new station building and its surroundings,” adds the city architect Michal Sedláček, who also sat on the expert jury. “In addition, during the competition, we recommended that some parts of the proposal be further refined, so that the result will be even better in line with the current strict requirements for the new station building,” he adds.
“I am very pleased with the cooperation between the City of Brno and the Railway Administration on this key project,” appreciates Markéta Vaňková, the mayor of Brno, and emphasises: “The modernised heart of the Brno railway junction in its new location by the Svratka River will significantly affect the city’s further development. The network of tracks will be simplified, thus removing barriers and freeing up large areas in the city centre for parks, recreation facilities and housing. The historic railway viaduct will become an esplanade between the city centre and the transformed waterfront. The new station will be surrounded on both sides by high-quality public space and connected to the city centre by a new tree-lined boulevard and a tram line.”
First Deputy Mayor Petr Hladík mentions other benefits of the new station: “One of the goals of the new station is to enable fast interchange between trains, buses and urban public transport in one place. This also means creating favourable conditions for the planned high-speed railway in the direction of Prague, Ostrava and Vienna. At the same time, comfort for pedestrians and cyclists, passengers and the station’s new neighbours is of essential importance.”
Today, the railway junction in Brno no longer suffices in terms of capacity or technology and its modernisation is necessary. Without it, Brno would remain stuck in the last century, when the last substantial change took place as the freight through route was built here. Brno prepared the construction of the new relocated train station several times, but the plans have repeatedly been stopped by unfavourable circumstances such as the Great Depression, the Second World War or the occupation in 1968. “Demands for railway transport are significantly different than 180 years ago. Therefore, Brno deserves an investment in its future and the presented results of the international competition clearly show that the city will have the most modern train station in Europe,” said Deputy Mayor Tomáš Koláčný.
The new main train station is the most important part of the modernisation of the Brno railway junction. Its location by the river was decided on 30 May 2018 by the Central Committee of the Ministry of Transport. Earlier that year, it was chosen by the representatives of the City and the Region. The modernisation of the Brno-Židenice train station is also being prepared at the moment, which will move it closer to urban public transport and create a new terminal in Brno’s Černovice district on Olomoucká Street.
“The international urban transport architectural competition for the design of the New Brno Main Train Station was announced on 31 August 2020 and the jury decided on the winning proposals at a two-day meeting on 1 and 2 July 2021. It was the largest architectural competition in the history of the Czech Republic; the competitors were tasked with designing a station building, including a complete solution of adjacent public spaces, buildings for administration, housing and civic facilities, bus station, urban public transport terminal and pedestrian connection,” reminded Filip Chvátal, Councillor for Land-Use Planning and Development.
It was a two-phase restricted competition. A total of twelve teams participated in the first phase. Three were invited directly, the other nine were selected by an expert jury from forty-six submitted applications and portfolios of architects. Among them were, for example, the authors of stations in Vienna, Berlin, Rotterdam, The Hague, Bologna, London or Birmingham. In the first phase, twelve competitors prepared their competition proposals. Four of them were selected for the second phase of the competition, where they worked them out in more detail. The competition was organised by Brno City Chief Architect’s Office and the City of Brno and the Railway Administration were its joint contracting authorities.
The public will be able to see all the proposals from both phases of the competition at the exhibition in the cloister of the Brno New Town Hall. The exhibition will take place on 30 September 2021 with the participation of the winning team. A large model of the new Trnitá district will also be exhibited, which was used by the expert jury in the evaluation. The competition models of individual teams with the designed buildings and adjoining public spaces were inserted directly into the model.
Benthem Crouwel International B.V.
Daniel Jongtien, Martin Biewenga and Jan Benthem
Sdružení Pelčák a partner architekti – Müller Reimann Architekten
ingenhoven architects GmbH, Architektonická kancelář Burian-Křivinka, architekti Koleček-Jura
BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group + A8000 s.r.o.
All proposals can be found at https://kambrno.com/competitions/brno-new-main-train-station/
The City of Brno’s new zoning plan is now available to view as an online exhibition, as a joint project of the Urban Center and the City Architect’s Office (KAM), which also drew up the proposal. The online exhibition outlines the origins of the plan, and explains in detail its importance to the city.
The “Exhibition of 381,348 Spatial Planners” was set to take place in the Urban Center, but the ongoing epidemic situation means it has moved to a virtual environment. The name of the exhibition is a reference to the population of the city, as the organisers want to encourage participation in the public consultation over the plan.
The exhibition covers all aspects of the plan that are important for the development of the city. KAM identified nine “burning questions”, which are dealt with in detail, including urban greenery, the city’s allotment sites, and bicycle transport. The exhibition also provides information about strategic locations in the city where new buildings or even entire new neighbourhoods are planned, and the revitalisation and new uses of brownfield sites. The draft zoning plan views the city as a living and ever-changing organism.
Apart from designing the new Brno main train station itself – from the platform to the roof, the interior to the façades – the competing architectural teams had to submit concepts for connecting bridges and related public spaces.
They also had to identify the optimal location and appearance of a new bus station, public transport terminal, car parks, taxi stands, bicycle storage and pedestrian access. What’s more, as the construction will be part of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), designs must account for a range of interconnections.
At the Brno University of Technology, a collapsible 3-D model of the existing site is now being built, using a range of thermoplastics and machine-tooled wood. The nearly “million-crown” model will be akin to a giant puzzle on a 1:500 scale, which the teams competing to design the train station can modify as they see fit.
Michal Sedláček, head of the Brno City Architect Office (KAM), told Czech Radio that the city had will use the 3-D models not only to assess the competing teams’ designs, but also to assess high-rise building projects that should sprout up in the new Trnitá district around the train station.
The model, representing an area of Brno two kilometers long and one and a half kilometers wide on 12 square meters, will be used by the expert jury to choose the winning design from the 12 currently being prepared. Experts from FAVU are constructing the model from wood, and by means of 3D printing. Two thirds of the terrain is already complete. The finished model will include hundreds of buildings, over 2,000 trees, train and tram tracks, and the river Svratka as a significant landscape element, all at a scale of 1:500. The competition teams will insert their proposed buildings and other elements directly into the model, allowing them to be evaluated from a vantage point and in the context of the whole district.
The twelve competitors are now working on their designs for the new station by the river. Four of them will be selected for the second phase of the competition, in which they will complete the proposals in greater detail, including physical representations of the competition area to be inserted into the model of the new district. In July 2021, the jury will select a winner and determine the order of the second, third and fourth place entries.
The entire finished model, including the winning form of the main railway station, will be presented to the public in the autumn of this year, where it will be the centrepiece of an exhibition of competition proposals.
The 3D map allows you to display up to 14 categories of buildings divided according to their purposes, such as housing, commerce, sports, recreation or gardens. It can be easily searched by address. Users can change the types of background map or enable shadows to be displayed based on current time. They can view information about multiple buildings at once, using the shift key. Even in a 3D model, buildings can be distinguished by their purposes, or even by floors as in the previous 2D applications.
In two years, information was collected on approximately 110,000 buildings, from which our data specialists calculated gross floor areas, roof type and height using spatial and statistical analyses. So far, they have modelled the historical centre of Brno as part of the 3D solution, and they are now working intensively to extend the map to the outskirts. The pilot 3D map project was presented for the first time in October at an exhibition called “381,346 Spatial Planners” in the Brno’s Urban Centre. Based on the feedback from its users, they want to continuously update the map.
Depth measurements using a ground-penetrating radar should now reveal the condition of the building and whether it can be saved. The test measurement of the first section took place on Tuesday, December 1, and it was organised by the Brno City Chief Architect‘s Office.
The test measurement of the first section includes the first five arches, i.e. about fifty metres from the Malá Amerika building to the south. The results of the first measurement will be available at the beginning of next year. If the measurement method proves successful, we plan to measure the entire route of the viaduct to the bridge over the Svratka River.
It has not been known for decades whether the original viaduct still exists under the railway embankment and what its condition is. Therefore, we were looking for ways to focus survey the construction under the existing track. If the viaduct can be saved, it will be a significant building and one of the dominants of the new southern district Trnitá. It will serve as a city esplanade from the centre to the Svratka River, similar to the famous High Line in New York.
The Viennese viaduct in Brno was built during 1838 by the Emperor Ferdinand Northern Railway as part of the line between Brno and Vienna. The actual brick viaduct with 72 arches supported a single track and it was a total of 637 metres long. It was followed by a five-arch bridge over the Svratka River, which preserved to this day. Only a few small sections of the original viaduct have been preserved, because during the widening of the track in the 1890s, it was largely buried and hidden in a massive embankment. Fifteen brick arches are preserved under the tracks and accessible from the Malá Amerika warehouse, others are visible in Nové Sady Street.
The international panel evaluated a total of 46 portfolios, as the review revealed that one request to participate was duplicated. The participation was also confirmed by the three studios invited in advance. The international urban-transport-architectural competition for the design of the New Brno Main Train Station was announced on 31 August 2020. The joint contracting authorities are the City of Brno and the Railway Administration. It is a two-phase restricted competition. This format allows the contracting authority to reduce the number of participants based on portfolios and reference projects only to those who are most suitable for the competition, which then receive sketch fees for processing the proposal.
In the first phase, twelve competitors will partially prepare their competition proposals and four of them will be selected to participate in the second phase of the competition. In the second phase, the four selected participants will prepare a more detailed version of their proposals, the panel will select the winner and determine the order in the second, third and fourth place. The evaluation of proposals in the first phase will take place in early March; the second phase evaluation will take place in June 2021. The winner will participate in the elaboration of subsequent project documentation.
The competitors will be tasked with designing the station building, including the roof and the platforms, the layout of the interior and the location of the main station hall, as well as the complete solution of adjacent public spaces, including administration buildings, housing and public amenities. It is also necessary to solve the form and location of the bus station, urban public transport terminal, parking, bicycle storage or pedestrian connection. The representatives of the city and the region decided in 2018 that the new station will stand by the river on the site of today’s lower station.