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LEAF Awards 2013 Winner: Metro Station "Toledo" in Naples

Public Building of the Year - Transport & Infrastructure
Oscar Tusquets Blanca and M. N. Metropolitana di Napoli Spa, Naples, Italy

The leitmotiv of the project emerged when the works had barely begun, making substantial structural modifications possible. The pit, more than 40m deep, beneath the crane that was extracting tons of volcanic sediments, was Piranesian in its grandeur. It was intended to cover this cavern when the crane had finished but not entirely. Space was needed for machinery and ducting, but it was possible to preserve a crater for travellers to sense how deep they were and to glimpse the sunlight above, while in the piazza, strollers could lean over the parapet and see passengers moving around 37m below, something surprising and dizzying.

The other driving idea arose because much of the station is below sea level. The parts above sea level seem to be excavated from the rock whilst the lower levels seem sunk into the sea. The floor and walls of the upper part are faced in natural stone, and the discovery of a muro aragonese in the ticket hall heightened the image of excavation. The ‘underwater’ areas are entirely faced with blue vitreous mosaic. Above, everything is earthy and matte.

This dichotomy is heightened by the works of two artists. In the ‘excavated’ areas there are two murals in stony mosaic, with a rough, ancient character. In the ‘aquatic’ areas, facing one another, two enormously long views of the sea-shore whose waves move subtly as one walks along the gallery are installed. In lighting the crater, a programme was created to coordinate the colour and intensity of each LED over time.

As well as through the great crater, natural light penetrates the mezzanine through three skylights that illuminate the interior while also enabling passers-by to glimpse the muro aragonese and the stony mural.

In addition to the underground works, part of the Via Diaz has now become a broad pedestrian piazza, a pause for calm along the always teeming Via Toledo. Trees were planted in the narrow unexcavated area whilst along the southern perimeter, parasols are arranged to protect the street stalls that were formerly scattered over the pavement. Adjacent to the Via Toledo stands an equestrian statue.

Client: Metropolitana di Napoli
Size of project: 13,228m²
Cost: Euro 7.3 million
Start date: 2005
Completion date: 2012

LEAF Awards jury statement

Impressive public transport scheme – a veritable gem, in fact – that is part of of Naples’ Art Projects programme aimed at increasing visitor numbers in this location on one of the city’s main shopping streets, for which Oscar Tusquets Blanca commissioned a number of noted artists, designers and architects to create a design on the theme of water and light on mosaic-covered walls covered. He also designed the public squares above the two Metro entrances. The sense of occasion, described by one visitor as a ‘fluid, floating dream’ as one descends to the great lobby, is unforgettable. The judges admired this discerning use of public money, enhancing an everyday urban facility for the enjoyment of all who travel through it.

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