De Centrale As – N356

Journey through nature

The Centrale As (N356) creates a unique connection through the National Landscape of the Noardlike Fryske Wâlden in Friesland. The four-lane highway starts at the junction with the N31 just below Burgum and ends at the ring road in Dokkum. The project is unique because nowadays, few roads of this scale are being built completely new in the Netherlands. The road will cross a valuable nature reserve but the principal elements of the existing landscape will be preserved; the Central As is subordinate to the landscape. The contrasting design and the coherent artworks contribute to the recognizable identity of the road.
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Bart Reuser, Marijn Schenk, Michel Schreinemachers, Joost Lemmens, Jurriaan Hillerstrom, Pieter Mulder, Jurrian Knijtijzer, Wingjim Yick, Anne-Laurence Ricard, Agata Piet (NEXT) with Lodewijk van Nieuwenhuijze, Jutta Raith en Frank Talsma (H+N+S)

H+N+S Landschapsarchitecten
Arup

Ronald Tilleman
Chantal van den Berg
Siebe Swart

Exploring landscape perceptions

The route presents itself as a contemporary, three-dimensional winding road that shows the surrounding landscape. The design and integration of the Centrale As show a clear contrast between road and landscape. By giving both elements an explicit identity of their own, the diversity of the different plots is emphasized. The landscape is made perceptible by the continuation of the canals and wooded banks close to the road and in the central reservation. As a result, the user drives through the various ‘rooms’ of the area, where the legibility and recognisability of the landscape have been enhanced by the design.

Connecting nature and infrastructure

To accentuate the strong identity of the road, the various artworks have been created in harmony with each other. By regulating the design and the materialization of the generic elements, such as the intermediate support points, edge details, and retaining walls, a coherent sequence has been created. In the design of the artworks, both the perspective from the road, as well as the perspective from the landscape has been taken into account.

The view of the Centrale As from the surrounding environment is uniform, as expanded metal screens have been placed in front of the bridge deck. The main constructions of the artworks are simple and blend into the landscape because of the open material. From the perspective of the road, the intersection of the local structures is emphasized by the perforated corten steel screens. These screens enhance the strong identity of the Centrale As that fits in with the unique landscape that it crosses through.

Creating a series of recognizable artworks

To avoid light pollution in the national landscape, an integral lighting plan has been designed in which the preservation of darkness is leading. By cherishing the darkness as a special environmental quality, a night-time schedule is created in which the Centrale As itself is not illuminated, but the local roads are consistently illuminated. By limiting the lighting, the plan for the Centrale As brings architecture, nature, landscape, and culture together to enhance the experience and identity of the road.

By using smart innovative lighting and reflection techniques, the road is safe for traffic, and light nuisance is prevented. The contrast between light and dark is minimized by dimming the lighting in the tunnel at night so that extra lighting can be omitted. In places where extra lighting is required for safety reasons, for example on roundabouts, wooden light poles are installed to enhance the character of the Centrale As and limit the impact of the road on the Noardlike Fryske Wâlden. In addition to the functional use of light, the light sources also accentuate various landmarks on the route where the road crosses an iconic infrastructural element in the landscape, such as at the Doniawei.

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