Linear Programming with negotiable constraints

The railway station and the old city centre of Utrecht, the Netherlands, are connected by a multi-functional building complex: Hoog Catherijne. Passengers are almost compelled to go through this complex to get from the station to the city centre and vice versa. Hoog Catherijne has been considered a frustrating heritage from the sixties, because the complex functions poorly, especially at night. The complex contains shops, offices, houses and parking garages. The shops of Hoog Catherijne cover about 30% of the total sales surface area in the city centre of Utrecht. The number of shops as well as the turnovers have grown (10% since 1997) in Hoog Catherijne, just like in the rest of the city centre. The functioning of the shopping centre cannot be considered the core problem. Difficulties in functioning are caused by unclear routes in the complex, differences in levels, and a separation of functions inside the complex. For instance, there are apartments on top of the complex, but they can hardly be noticed at ground floor level, because the entrances to the apartments are not very obvious and they have direct access to the parking garages underground. The result is that Hoog Catherijne is a very unpleasant area for passengers going to and from the city centre, especially after closing time of the shops. The current transportation hub located right beside Hoog Cather-ijne, which includes the railway station, also functions poorly. Passengers who want to change to different ways of transportation are compelled to use unsafe routes. In addition, the current capacity of these transition areas is not large enough to deal with the growing number of passengers. The annual number of passengers is currently at 57 million and is expected to grow to 100 million by 2015.

In order to improve the current situation of the railway station and its surroundings, an urban design for the whole area was approved by the city council in December 1997. This urban design is the framework for all the new developments in the area now and in the future. The possibilities for the transportation interchange are determined by this urban design. The new design was not received with applause. On the contrary, the plans for the railway station area in Utrecht were so much disputed among citizens of the city, that a political party came into being to fight against the plans. This party, 'Liveable' Utrecht, even got a seat in the city council. Liveable Utrecht believes that the municipality takes too much financial risk, and that the plans are too bombastic for the city of Utrecht. The heated political debate on the issue is still not concluded at the time of writing.

To provide insight into the possibilities and impossibilities of various solutions, Open Design simulations were conducted by Merema (2000).

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