Globalisation has brought the world closer together and the seemingly neverending daily grind leaves people moving from place to place more than ever before. This creates a demand for ‘transitory spaces’ – spaces that are not a destination in and of themselves, but make the commute possible.
These spaces can be anything from train stations to stairwells – they offer to make commuters’ movements simpler and easier.
A growing number of industry members have realised the potential that can be gained – or the value added – to buildings that optimise these spaces. According to Caroline Bos of acclaimed Denmark architectural firm UNStudio, these spaces have greater value than most people realise.
“In reality we spend a lot of time in these transitory spaces,” says Bos. “Our patterns of living are very fluid.”
This kind of understanding has led the design of one of UNStudio’s long term developments: the Arnhem Train Station and Bus Terminal in the Netherlands.
While conducting research prior to the design phase, the architect discovered the major train station was only used as such by 40 per cent of the foot traffic that actually flowed through the space. In reality, a greater majority of users saw the station as a strictly transitional space on their way to or from different areas of the city.
This information brought to light the fact that the station’s intended function, while important to a large percentage of the users, was actually a hindrance to those passing through.
“Civic icons, they are a connector, but also at the same time, a block,” says Bos.
These ideas led to the creation of a space that optimises communication, flow and connectivity, taking into account the users and their percentages. Due to these factors, specific routes and zones for each of the train station’s functions were formed – some strictly for foot traffic through the area, some to the various platforms, and others directed to bus zones.
This kind of design allows a continuation of motion while optimising space and general building efficiency. With a general focus on optimising public transport spaces as a way to reduce carbon emissions and on-road density by taking a societal reliance off car use, those who design with an eye to to the transitory nature of these spaces will reap results and add greater value to their built environments.