NEVER SO BRIGHT
‘..Halfway the bare plain lays a ghost station. A concrete carcass, overgrown with weeds. Crumbling stairs without railings lead to muddy polder soil. On this plain could have been countless homes; the residents could have taken the train at the ghost station.’
Cited from the book: LELYSTAD | Courtesy of Joris van Casteren | ISBN 978 90 446 12172 NL 2008.
The Dutch city of Lelystad is a city raised from the sea. In the late 1950s, on a spot where 60 years ago there was only water, around 1500 square kilometres of land was reclaimed from the IJsselmeer lake, which had itself been open sea until the 1930s. Ambitions for the city were high. It was meant to house 100.000 residents and be an important centre for the entire – newly created – province of Flevoland. Through the 1960s and 1970s, the most cutting edge architecture and planning ideas were applied to this tabula rasa. Lelystad featured modern housing and plenty of space, both green and water, and one of its most striking components was an elevated system of bicycle lanes. The city’s future seemed bright.
However, reality never lived up to the city’s optimistic ambitions. The province was supposed to be larger but one lake was never drained, thus making Lelystad’s hinterland unexpectedly small. Moreover, the construction of the city of Almere, which was closer to Amsterdam and the west of the Netherlands, diminished the importance of Lelystad as a regional center.
In the 1980s, the city suffered from vacancy and an outflow of 10.000 inhabitants. Nevertheless, in 1988 the train station Lelystad Centrum was opened, finally connecting Lelystad to Amsterdam. The planning authorities optimistically anticipated further growth with two additional stations, Lelystad Noord and Lelystad Zuid. While Lelystad Noord never even made it to the drawing board, Lelystad Zuid was constructed in expectation of future use once a new residential area was built around it.
The concrete skeleton of the station stands solemnly in the quiet fields, a train shooting through it several times each hour without stopping. The construction of the planned suburbia around it will begin soon, but the comatose station will most likely not be reanimated before 2025.
Photographer Denis Guzzo captured the station by night, highlighting its surreal eeriness. The project title is ‘Never So Bright’ ‘which corresponds to the hope that a left-behind piece of infrastructure such as this station may eventually reach the function for which it was designed. The station is captured as an object floating into twilight, a visual exploration of a transitional meaning: the limbo between ‘non-place’ and ‘place’’.
With the city slowly expanding to the south, the Lelystad Zuid station's future has become a little brighter. However, it remains to be seen whether there will ever be enough local demand for an extra station in the city. In the meantime, the concrete structure lies idle in the field, quietly waiting for the busier times to come.