Italian architect and design studio, Atelier Mendini and New York-based industrial designer Karim Rashid, has collaborated with the M.N. Metropolitana di Napoli to create the interiors of the University of Naples subway station.
Rashid said a subway station is a temporal, transitional space, yet the commuter is contained for a short period of time before continuing his/her journey. The design concept focuses on the commuter experience within the train station, and how the surrounding environment can serve as a respite in a person’s daily schedule.
“There was a great synergy working with Atelier Mendini, particularly on the creative and technical level highly required for this project,” he said.
The subway station is the first of five new facilities integrating the Naples subway line 1 that serves strategic areas of the town and is part of the “Art Stations” network, which are all conceived by internationally renowned architects and enriched in both interiors and exteriors, by sculptures, installations and contemporary artworks.
Entering the venue from the piazza, the visitor walks though a space clad with tiles, each one printed with new words created in the last century.
The mezzanine level of the station has four black columns clad with DuPont Corian in Nocturne (black). These are all positioned close to the gates, with two in a cylindrical section, and the others featuring the profiles of huge heads.
Along the back wall of the lobby level are lenticular icons that change colour and perspective as commuters proceed to the platforms below and intersecting the space between the head profile benches is an abstracted, Synopsis sculpture reflecting the nodes of the brain and the synapses which occur within that.
Nearby, the subway station control centre is clad with DuPont Corian Glacier White to contrast with the pop-style graphics on the floor and wall.
Various artworks and other graphic art serve as a focal point. These abstract images invoke the user to shape the environment according to his/her own creative interpretations. The platform steps feature abstracted portraits of Dante and Beatrice. The accent colours, lime and pink, indicates the direction and guides visitors through the descent to the final destination.
“I started this project more than six years ago. I visited Naples, in 2004, for a briefing with Mendini then he and M.N. Metropolitana di Napoli selected various famous architects to design each station,” said Rashid.
“They showed me Gae Aulenti’s station design that was completed in 2002 as well as the station Mendini had designed. Aulenti’s station has work by Michelangelo Pistoletto and Joseph Kosuth. Some stations have art from Sol Lewitt to Sandro Chia. Alessandro and Francesco Mendini were the master planners on the projects.”