NIO Architecten

Bus station

Hoofddorp, The Netherlands

December 2003
Well, it must be faced: the jury gave an award to a blob, notwithstanding the ARs deep distaste for the blob movement. It is a bus station built on an island in the forecourt of Hoofddorps Spaarne Hospital and it acts as junction point for local bus services.
Its long curved form is hollowed out to provide shelter and access to the buses. Overall, it is like a giant elongated Arp or Moore and, inside, it is like being in an enormous sculpture, or perhaps like being in the belly of a whale after entering its mouth.
Seats for waiting passengers are carved into the walls, and at the west end, a tiny restroom for bus staff has been formed. The bus station was carved out of polystyrene foam in a factory and given a sprayed-on polyester skin. The five elements were brought to the site and then glued together, after which the whole was given a further coat of polyester. The big but very light form is firmly bolted down to concrete foundations. It is the worlds largest structure made of synthetic materials, for building the form in a conventional way would have been completely impossible within the budget. Before starting manufacture, the architects tested the proposed materials extensively against damage from impact and vandalism with knives, cigarettes, mallets and other vicious devices. The substances triumphantly survived all such attentions.
The jury was impressed by the spatial and technical élan and ingenuity of the building even those of us who do not like blobs had to admit that the form is appropriate for its function and site. Almost all blobs create a zone of dead space round them. But here the dead area exists already (the roads and the bus stances), so it is one of the few sites on which a blob is appropriate. What the place needed was a shelter and a landmark: it got both, and now the bus station clearly adds to the life of the city. Only time will tell if its materials and construction can stand up to the kind of human attrition to which most bus stations are subjected.

NIO Architecten
Project team
Maurice Nio, Henk Bultstra, Mirjam Galjé, Hans Larsen, Jaakko vant Spijker
Collaborating architect
VHP s+a+l, Rotterdam