Editor's note

Landscapes around busy transit hubs in general are usually designed as paved areas for the passengers buzzing through these noisy, dirty and smelly areas. In this sense, the introduction of an urban meadow is to be celebrated since it offers quite a complementary experience. Also to animals but above all to humans.

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On the west side of Amsterdam is the train station Amsterdam Sloterdijk located. The area of the station, Sloterdijk-centre, is radically changing from an empty office area to an area with hotels, apartments, restaurants and small events. The Orlysquare, also called: Orlyplein, is the square in front of the station that has been transformed from an asphalt and concrete parking space to a green and sustainable public space. The green landscape of the Brettenzone, West of Amsterdam literally arrives to the doorstep of the station.

Transformation of Orlysquare

Sloterdijk is located on the west side of the city and is part of the Business Park Westpoort. In front of the station lies the Orlysquare, which connects the station with the Hemboogstation. With the relocation of the tram- and bus station the square lost most of its function and became an empty and abandoned concrete surface. In 2012 the Community of Amsterdam developed an area strategy to offer the mono-functional office area a new perspective. This consists of improving the environmental climate for other functions such as housing, hotels, short-stay apartments and events. Also the construction of the new highway Westrandweg (A5) in 2013 contributed to a renewed dynamic in the area, whereby the accessibility is increased.

The Orlysquare is a major hub in the area, where the traffic from the city, harbour, business parks, the foreigners and the public transport-users node Sloterdijk comes together. The goal of the transformation is creating a sustainable public space to invite users and future residents to meet and accommodate in the heart of the area.

The design is made in a direct relation with the adjacent Brettenpark. The green design refers to the natural character and the image of the plants in the area. In addition to stay, the design offers space for bicycle parking, hotel and catering industry and small-scale events.

The design

The design is chosen to first invest in the public space to make it attractive for new developments. The design was made in consultation with all the stakeholders as well as the Dutch Railway stations (NS) and Prorail. In the process there has been given space to promoters to give a creative boost to the square.

The design is connecting two important components: the promenade and the green square. The promenade runs from the central hall at the station to the Hemboogstation and makes several offices in northern direction accessible. It’s being used as a pedestrian route and functions as a balcony in front of the station with a view over the Brettenpark. Baked materials and small boulders had paved the promenade. The Gleditsia trees, which have been reused in the square, form a green roof that guide the stream of pedestrians.

The green square is the place to be! Curving paths in the green where you can sit and enjoy the sun and there are direct routes from A to B cutting the planting. The location of the paths is based on natural walking lines from- and to the train station. A coincidence came by when designing it: it was snowing in Amsterdam what made the shortest walks visible. In the middle of the green are two pavilions with terraces located. The paths are paved with concrete plates in game without imprisonment, which makes it possible for the planting and paving to go together.

Planting design

The starting point for the design of the plants is a reference to the native flora and fauna of the Brettenzone with, for example, June berries, hawthorn and purple moor grass. These native plants and small trees are not just for the beauty, but is designed to attract people and animals as well. The design is a translation of a wildflower meadow made with multi stemmed small trees, botanical roses, grasses, perennials and bulbs. With that, 60% of the herbaceous plants are ornamental grasses. The planting has a year around attractive image that starts in the spring with the flowering of 30.000 bulbs, followed by the exuberant bloom of perennials in summer. In autumn and winter grasses make the image. Not only the image is important, but also because of the green at the square, the square is made rainproof. Because it is mainly on the viaduct of the there is a special construction of moisturizing underground panels. These sustainable panels make the plants grow in just 30cm of earth! Today the people enjoy the visiting animals and the smell of blooming flowers.


The design facilitates 1000 bicycle parking places, which are strategically located at the entrances of the station, and the main bicycle lanes to ensure people to go by bike and public transport instead of using vehicles. In addition there are parking places for scooters, taxi stands, a Kiss & Ride and parking places for touring cars. At the Orlysquare is also space for a flower stall, a food truck and for a fishmonger. The transformation of the square contributes to the change of a transient area to a part of the city to stay. With the recent arrival of the cultural hotspot Bret, one of the pavilions, Sloterdijk isn’t just a place for tourists, but for all people of Amsterdam.

Landscape Architecture: City of Amsterdam Department of Environmental Planning and Sustainability

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