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Almere Centrum railway station: an expansive rooflight refurbishment with big green goals


By VELUX Commercial

A complete roof and façade refurbishment has transformed Almere Centrum railway station into a commuter space bursting with natural light.

In the Netherlands, Almere Centrum Railway Station has undergone a transformative roof refurbishment. Today a concourse renovation covers communal areas in daylight and fills commuting space with fresh air. VELUX Commercial provided and installed all roof glazing for this large refurbishment project, managing products inclusive of glass, dome rooflights and façades. Aluminium structural replacements support a new tailor-made glass roof system; panoramic glass elevators deliver birds-eye views of retail outlets. A lick of red paint was also given to steel frames that support the railway station’s infrastructure. Commuters can now shop underneath the glow of natural light before moving on to their next destination.

Securing the project and going green to provide sustainability

Following a call for tenders by client ProRail, contractor Straal- en schildersbedrijf West won the contract. West specialize in maintenance and sustainability and chose VELUX Commercial as a partner to replace all polycarbonate and glass rooflights. But every replacement had to withstand high wind pressure caused by tall building developments surrounding the station. West’s Project Manager, Rook Treffers, is very happy about how the refurbishment has progressed with several challenges being overcome.

“Everything has run smoothly, in terms of project execution and team communication” - Rook said.

Almere Station

Almere Station

ProRail chose clear glass and polycarbonate dome rooflights to create an aesthetic of transparency that floods the concourse with natural light. Another goal was to make Almere Centrum the greenest railway station in the Netherlands. On project completion, 1,238 roof solar panel installations will help realize an ambitious green goal. These installations include integrated solar cells in sloping glass panels. Solar panels and integrated cells (BIPV = Built in Photo Voltaic Cells) have been fitted and span the entirety of the roof. Approximately 387 kWh of energy will be generated in total.

Rooflight installation

VELUX Commercial structural glazing replaced existing glass rooflights and façades. Operations Manager Luke Wijnands has overseen the large refurbishment project which also includes a replacement of 126 dome rooflights.

“We have replaced the existing opal-glazing domes with new clear polycarbonate glazing, which allows more light into the station” - Luke said.

On initial inspection, it was quickly established that the existing domes were thirty years old.

“We realized that now was the ideal time to replace them, once the solar panels were installed, due to their size, it would have been very difficult to replace the original dome opal-glazing.”

Each roof section has 21 new dome rooflights and sections of the replaced domes were able to be recycled. VELUX Commercial assembly engineers used the same hole pattern to ensure proper and secure elevation. A total of six roof sections equate to 126 dome rooflights - a process that took two staff one day to complete per roof section. Team West are pleased with the results.

“ProRail and Almere Centrum are happy,” Rook said.

The new glass system had to mirror the appearance of the existing rooflight solution but meet today’s regulatory and performance requirements. An upgrade now includes robust 4mm glass which can absorb high wind forces. ProRail wind requirements also mean clamping and fixing upgrades are now complete.

VELUX Commercial structural glazing replaced existing glass rooflights and fa├žades.

VELUX Commercial structural glazing replaced existing glass rooflights and façades.

Accommodating the public and overcoming challenges

Ambitious refurbishment projects come with a touch of the unexpected, and challenges project managers may not be able to anticipate in advance. In public buildings like Almere Centrum, any issue had to be overcome with public safety in mind. It was vital construction caused no disruption to public services running on time and remaining open. If a crane was erected, for example, this might cause disruption to public cycle paths; local authorities were reluctant to close transport accessibility, but with communication, compromises were made.

“With a large project like this, you find solutions by talking with local authorities” - Luke Wijnands said. “There are always issues you won’t encounter until a project is underway.”

Project challenges also included hoisting work that could only take place at night. This was due to bus services needing to stay in operation. As a result, strict timeframes were put in place. Maximising project efficiency became paramount to being successful.

“Hoisting work couldn’t take place while buses were in operation,” Luke said, “this task had to take place at night between quarter past two and half past four.”

Several train free periods (TFPs) created pockets of time to install access equipment such as scaffolding and hydraulic lifts. A safety scaffold platform was created for out of service hours to enable rooflights to be replaced and installed. The task of erecting a huge structure in a short period of time included a 2,500 square metre platform being erected above the train tracks. This goal was achieved with just 52 hours of TFP time available, and complete within nine months.

“This has been a thrilling and educational build. Working on such an ambitious railway station project has many moving parts, challenges that are uncommon and often involve public considerations” - Luke said.

The safety scaffold platform was created for out of service hours to enable rooflights to be replaced and installed.

The safety scaffold platform was created for out of service hours to enable rooflights to be replaced and installed.

Project satisfaction

Rook is pleased with how such an ambitious refurbishment project has come together. As a contractor, working with VELUX Commercial has been a very successful collaboration.

“These guys have done a good job, ProRail and Almere Centrum are very satisfied with the results. Execution of the project progressed well, even though tasks weren’t easy. On a public building project such as this, you gain more and more insight as it progresses, and you learn, work can always be approached and done differently.”

Glass panes weighing 80kg were installed manually or via a crane; a large scale repaint of a steel exterior was incorporated into refurbishment plans scheduled 18 months before the project began.

Why choose VELUX Commercial?

“I’ve been working at ProRail for forty years and in this sector, you must comply with certain rules, which VELUX Commercial is also very proficient at. They deliver on their promise and have company engineers who are certified and possess a Digital Safety Passport. This is a requirement to work on any ProRail site. Everything is as it should be, once one rooflight was installed, and a second, third, well, things began to run like a well-oiled machine.”

Rook considers VELUX Commercial to have been part of West’s thought process as primary project contractor. If the client asked for something different, Rook took input from West’s chosen rooflight partners.

“Buildings adjacent to the station had two additional storeys added,” Rook said, “this meant that the solar panels on the south side of Almere Centrum’s roof would produce 18 percent less energy, this was due to shadowing from these new storeys being built. VELUX Commercial worked with us to solve the problem and came up with a very good plan, even if ProRail chose a different path, our rooflight partners were on hand to work on finding a solution.”

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