Liège-Guillemins train station
Liège, Place des Guillemins
1996 – 2009
There is a station in Liège in the Guillemins district since the beginning of the 20th century. This district is named after the Wilhelmites who had a monastery here (in French Wilhelm is Saint-Guillaume). It was a dingy neighborhood at the end of the 20th century and the station from 1958 was very tight; the city of Liège wanted to change that. Modernizing the old station proved impossible.
In 1996, Santiago Calatrava was designated as an architect for the new Liège-Guillemins station through a competition. Construction started two years later, in 1998. The architect was assisted by the Belgian engineering and architect firm Greisch.
The station remained in use during the works. It took 11 years to build this large station. It had to become an HSL station and as a result crossings and bends had to be avoided as much as possible. The cost thus became even higher.
At the opening of the station, the architect emphasized the openness of the building. There are no facades on the sides and the city center and the area behind the station are still visible. The station must not be a barrier. No vertical wall is visible. According to Calatrava there must be a dialogue between people, train and building. The disadvantage of the lack of facades is that it is cold and windy in the winter. No pain no gain …
As there are no side walls, there are no wind changes. The side awnings ensure wind stability. The building was placed on a scale in a wind tunnel. The results of this test were used to calculate the wind loads.
Santiago Calatrava used his experience in bridge construction for the roof. The span is 190 meters long, but the roof measures 410 meters in total and is 160 meters wide. The highest point is around 35 meters. There are no pillars, but arches: 39 in total. The station managed to steal the prize in the Steel Construction Competition for non-residential buildings in 2010. The steel builder was a Spanish company: EMESA Elaborados Metalicos.
To clean the roof, a gondola is used that can move between the arches for the bottom. The top can be cleaned via walkways on rails above the roof.
Standard steel elements were built in advance in the workshop and subsequently mounted and installed at their fixed location.
The station contains three levels. The bottom, under the tracks is for the travelers. Here there are waiting rooms, shops and access to the parking. On the floor above are the tracks and some pieces have a floor made of glass tiles so that the lower level receives natural light. The top floor connects to the kiss & ride zone at the back of the station and has two walkways to the platforms.
Before the opening of the station, a show was put together by Franco Dragone. Below you can see a piece of the show (from about 3 minutes).
Train station Liège-Guillemins
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