Sporadisch kleinood te Maastricht, een seinhuis naar ontwerp van Sybold van Ravesteyn (1889-1983)
At the railway yard in Maastricht just north of the NS railway station the one and only completely preserved signal box after a design of architect ir. Sybold van Ravesteyn (1889-1983) is to be found. During his long active life Van Ravesteyn constructed many buildings for the Netherlands Railway Company, but the greater part of his oeuvre was demolished in consequence of new requirements of use and changed circumstances.
The signal cabin in Maastricht (1935), known as Post T, was not demolished and still contains the original electric control equipment as it was made by the Vereinigte Eisenbahn Signalwerke in Berlin. In the thirties of the twentieth century this equipment was considered very modern. It concerns a so-called multi-tier appliance, which is compact and conveniently arranged in spite of its 168 control switches. Because of its large weight (10,000 kilogram) the equipment was hoisted up in parts.
Signal cabin Post T was constructed of reinforced concrete and is still in the original state. In accordance with its nature and function it was placed high above the rails and is supported by two reinforced concrete pillars. The northernmost pillar is massive, the other one hollow. The slender construction, the optimal glazing of the control space, and the roof on the northern side executed in an elegant W-shape give the signal cabin a striking architectonic presence, which in spite of its moderate dimensions can be called both monumental and graceful. The author describes the signal cabin against the background of the railway history of Limburg and sketches the consistent orientation of this province and its capital towards the neighbouring foreign countries.
Besides, the significance of Maastricht as a fortified town, the development of the railway yard and of the station quarter are passed in review. Incidentally, he tries to supplement the headword seinhuis (signal cabin) as it is defined in the architectural dictionary ‘Verklarend woordenboek van de westerse architectuur- en bouwhistorie’ of E.J. Haslinghuis and H. Janse (a 'building where the signals and switches of a railway network are operated') with remarks on the visual functionality of signal cabins, compares it to related types of buildings, and brings up the specific building form of signal cabins.
In 1998, despite the fact that Post T had not been in use as a signal cabin for quite a while, the Netherlands Railway Company made a list of work to be executed, initially aimed at carrying out major repairs; gradually this work expanded to a complete restoration of the object as regards nature and function.
In close cooperation with the Netherlands Railway Company, the municipality of Maastricht and the Department for the Preservation of Monuments and Historic Buildings (RDMZ) a modest restoration took place, in which respect for the historical substance of the signal cabin was put first and foremost. The commissioning authority considered the building designed by Van Ravesteyn the target image; distracting additions of a later date were therefore removed, while the original materials were optimally respected.
Consequently, the restoration could be successfully completed in the autumn of 2003. The result is a signal cabin stripped from distracting elements, with overdue maintenance remedied and small material imperfections put right. Since 2003 the brisk, modern presence, as it was referred to by various authors in 1935, is worth to be looked at again by both train traveller and critical observer.