Mecanoo, led by Founding Partner and Creative Director Francine Houben and Research/Design Partner Dick van Gameren is an architectural design firm based in Delft, Netherlands. This particular design forum aims to create a space vibrant and as per the inhabitant to allure all the senses. They comprehend and pursue the unhampered and pristine philosophy of “People-Place-Purpose.” Their architectural vocabulary and design thinking provide extensive experience that serves the client’s ambitions. It also brings together different aspects of architecture, landscape, urban planning, and interior in a unique discernment. Another feasible feature that governs the firm’s architectural practice is the parameter of “sustainability.” Sustainability for them is like an inherited or inbuilt criterion with which they chose to live. The subsequent leads to the construction of buildings prepared for all changes in terms of the climate, context, or user functionality. Their concepts, philosophy, and perspective inspire and derives novel built environments for a better future. According to Mecanoo’s creative director/founding partner Francine Houben, architecture not only is intellectual, intangible, or a visual game; it is an amalgamation of various individual elements within a singular entity. In the end, the emotion that derives from space and the arrangement of shapes into socially relevant forms is what matters. 


An Expansive Railway Zone in Holland's Oldest City reimagined by Mecanoo - Sheet2
Dick van Gameren ©
An Expansive Railway Zone in Holland's Oldest City reimagined by Mecanoo - Sheet3
The future of Dordrecht outlined with the vision for Dordrecht Spoorzone 2040 ©
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Spoorzone Dordrecht ©
An Expansive Railway Zone in Holland's Oldest City reimagined by Mecanoo - Sheet1
Francine Houben ©

Today, we shall discuss one such design proposal submitted by Mecanoo for Dordrecht, the oldest city of Holland. Dordrecht is a city and a municipality situated in the heart of nature in the western Netherlands, in the province of South Holland. The town was presented with its city rights by William I, Count of Holland in 1220, and incorporates a rich culture, history, innovation, trade, and maritime industry. The location of Dordrecht is quite strategic, proving to be valuable for its citizens. It was found along the Thure river, amid the peat swamps. Because of its geography, the city benefited in the marketing industry, selling wine, wood, and cereals during the 12th and 13th century, leading to immense development. Not only that but, Dordrecht is also commonly known as the “medieval city centre” since it encompasses around 950 monuments, which includes elaborately detailed churches and museums, meticulous for architecture lovers. With modern technologies spreading, the city has seen an intense increment in its population and industrial sector in the locale and the region of Drechtsteden, causing many spatial challenges for the people. To explore better climatic adaptions, urban renewal policies, housing recommendations, and socio-economic expansions rendering to the future (until the year 2040), Mecanoo envisaged an outline for the Spoorzone Dordrecht, which is a railway zone.

An Expansive Railway Zone in Holland's Oldest City reimagined by Mecanoo - Sheet5
The vision is to transform the railway station into a pleasant arrival that connects the already existing neighbourhoods to the reimagined city district ©

But why is a new revelation required for this specific space? Conferring with the team of Mecanoo, the entire zone which stations the railway area acts like a barrier for the city, accumulating noise pollution and presenting safety complications now more than ever. These glitches arise due to the situation of freight transport. Mecanoo’s proposal moulds the railway zone into a collective arena that unites multiple existing neighbourhoods with the new city districts, inculcating large volumes of green areas. The concept is to convert a transportation area into a highly functional green city park. The built environment will consist of nearly 6000 residents, constructed with wood. The materials applied for construction, like wood, stone, etc., will be sourced from the production forests of Dordrecht, making it an economically viable solution to implement sustainability in the design. Along with the green spaces established around the housing scheme, Mecanoo plans to sow more vegetation and landscaping spaces all along the riverfront, where individuals can conduct several activities like walking, bicycling, etc. This path will possess the view of the Oude Maas river and the entire city. 

The planning and design of the new railways are such that it also integrates the green estate of Weizigtpark, which provides access to the main city centre. Not only will this design enable an effortless flow of vehicles and the public, but it shall promote and enhance the spatial qualities of the entire city districts, making it exclusive. According to the designs rendered by Mecanoo, Dordrecht Central Station will become the most thoroughly landscaped and green railway station in the entire Netherlands. The team of designers at Mecanoo have visualized the Dordrecht Railway Station to become an arena where individuals can stopover and rest, connecting points of new developments of the city. They intend to make the Oude Maas Riverfront space where the citizens can “live with their feet on the water” in a vehicle-free, mixed-use neighbourhood.  With this proposal, Mecanoo theorizes Dordrecht city to be an ideal paradigm for designing our future cities. The end goal is to depict how one can sort the considerably primary hurdles of spatial planning and design for a city’s infrastructure. 

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The above image highlights Dordrecht station, the greenest station in Netherlands ©

To summarize, with the upcoming design by Mecanoo, the city of Dordrecht will not only be known for its wooden materials, its trades and inventions but will become a synergy of nature, infrastructure, and urban advance. With the provision of activities on the grounds of a railway station like water events, sports activities like cycling, walking, etc., the city will emerge as a new space, establishing itself as the guiding system for the growth and expansion of the other cities in the subsequent years. 


  1. Understanding the proposal by Mecanoo, Video,
  2. About Mecanoo, official site,

Ansha Kohli is whimsical andenigmatic when it comes to her life. Wanting to pursue a career in architecture journalism after completing her graduation, she is on the road to seek something new and exciting, and subsequently enthusiastic to share as well as understand different philosophies associated with art and architecture.