About Maankwartier

Maankwartier is completely different. A definite must-see when visiting South Limburg. It is Heerlen’s new train and bus station area. But it is also a work of art, and a place where people can work, live and enjoy themselves.

Connect

The latest piece of Heerlen is above all a connection between Heerlen-South and Heerlen-North. The rails used to divide the city; Maankwartier provides a new connection. The ‘slab’ over the rails being the actual link. Maankwartier makes it so much easier for people to travel from one part of the city to the other.

Calling card

Maankwartier is the new calling card for both Heerlen and Parkstad. A place where travellers can marvel over the remarkable design, as they arrive by bus or train. A place where people like to be and meet each other. A place to be proud of and talk about.

Beauty

Maankwartier also returns beauty to the city. With its high arches, pretty facades, intimate streets, grand stairs and meeting squares. The unique design combines architecture from two important periods. Cues from the mining era and the Roman past are combined with a hint of southern warmth and romance.

Artwork

Maankwartier is a design by well-known Heerlen artist Michel Huisman.
Within the artwork, another 89 smaller artworks are contained. Some very visible, like the Heliostat, others hidden as an architectural detail. All artworks have their own story and depict a Zodiac sign.

Sections: North, South and the Slab

Maankwartier is a new part of the city. It connects the north and the south side of town by means of a new railway station. Every year, some 9 million people will pass through here with varying destinations. Living, working, travelling, shopping; it all comes together here.

  • North is the part between Hoppenhof, Looierstraat and Spoorsingel. North is mostly finished and accessible for everybody. Maankwartier has come alive here. The underground parking garage Maanplein, Jumbo supermarket and Action are all open. The offices of the city of Heerlen and unemployment agency UWV are also in use. The first residents – of both rental and privately owned apartments – have moved in. The biggest artwork, the Heliostat is finished and provides sunlight to the dark parking garage below.
  • South is the part adjacent to the Station square and the Saroleastraat. Apartments, shops, a part of the hotel, a park and an underground parking garage will arise here shortly. Construction is well underway.
  • The slab is the connecting part between the south and the north side of Maankwartier. It’s the part where the new NS train station will be built, with NS stores and another part of the hotel. Building on the slab has started, once construction on the south side was at ground level.

The Name

The name ‘Maankwartier’ was given by its creator, Michel Huisman. At the start of the project, he felt the city was not doing well. New light for the city could only come from the ‘Moon’. Michel Huisman: “Buildings were being torn down, and all governmental funding was going towards Maastricht. During that time a lot of vacant lots were hastily filled with cheap buildings. Small stores that provided the charm and style were forced out by the big chain stores. This robbed the city of its soul. On top of that we had a general period of decline. Now we are at a tipping point. But with Maankwartier we will tip the right way. Maankwartier is the medicine this town needs. It provides the city with energy and critical mass. It turns weakness into a strength and is the difference between just a solution and the answer to the real, actual question of our city. Heerlen is on the mend.”

Michel Huisman: “The moon is literally the most important mirror we have. Men knows itself through mirrors. Literally, but also figuratively: by mirroring yourself in others. If we were to throw out everything we could reflect ourselves in, – which more or less happened in the inner city of Heerlen – then we would have to find a new way to bring the light back in. For now and for the future. For that purpose, we use the moon. Besides that: digging a mine underground is as remarkable as going to the moon. So my thinking was: let’s make a moon. And the black mountain of coal, we’ll turn into a white mountain reflecting light, giving it back to the city. We continuously took the warmth from it and gave back nothing but coldness. Now we reverse that. We build Maankwartier in order to generate warmth.”

Heliostat: largest artwork in Maankwartier

The Heliostat is also called the moon tower. What the Heliostat expresses: ‘Catch the light if you don’t have it yourself. Light that shines somewhere else is reflected miraculously by the Heliostat’. The Heliostat is the small, high tower on the Maanplein. Up in the centre of the tower hangs a semi-circular bowl with a diameter of around 6 meters. This bowl, shaped to resemble the moon, has a flat side covered by a nickel plated, polished mirror. The clockwork in the Heliostat, in combination with light-detecting sensors determines the exact position of the sun. During the day, the side with the mirror ‘follows’ the sun and reflects the sunlight down the centre of the tower all the way down to the bottom floor of the parking garage. At Maanplein level a layer of water in a transparent pond inside the tower diffuses the light, making the sunlight sparkle along the walls of the Heliostat. As soon as the sun goes down, the mirror side of the bowl faces downward, illuminated by a number of spotlights.

Time and the flying fish

The Roman numerals on the clockwork of the Heliostat are gold-plated with 24 carat gold. The clockwork consists of a clock whose numbers revolve while the pointer stands still. The red marking on the side of the Maanplein indicates the time. The clock can be heard every full hour. The small, round bowl all the way up in the Heliostat represents the earth. Around the earth flies Volans, the flying fish, also a star sign. In the time of the Byzantine empire, the fish symbolized Christianity. The flying fish symbolizes those who have left the church and cannot find their way back. They endlessly circle the earth.