First phase now complete: Napoli Afragola Train Station by Zaha Hadid Architects
Client: Rete Ferroviaria Italiana S.P.A.
Architect: Zaha Hadid Architects
Location: Napoli Afragola, Italy
The new Napoli Afragola railway station is designed as a central node for high-speed train lines serving southern Italy. In future the station will be used by four high-speed intercity lines, three inter-regional ones and also local train services. In order to meet future demand (rail travel throughout southern Italy has increased some 50 percent over the past ten years), it was decided to locate the large railway station to the east of the greater Naples metropolitan area, namely twelve kilometres east of the city, thus making it possible to integrate local and regional rail services in the planning and at the same time also take pressure off downtown Naples. Once all the lines have become operational, about 32,700 passengers a day – or some 12 million a year – will be using the station, with 28 high-speed trains halting daily at Napoli Afragola when it is complete. For about a month now the first high-speed trains currently serving about 10,000 passengers a day have been stopping at the station.
The central approach taken by Zaha Hadid and Patrick Schumacher focussed on designing the station as a public bridge that connects the communities on either side of the railway lines. In the further planning, special emphasis was placed on minimising the distances taken by passengers in reaching or leaving their trains and when connecting to other rail services.
The broad railway bridge spans eight railway tracks and not only provides direct access to the platforms below but also acts as a central concourse. Large access points on both sides of the station, complete with shops and other services, lead to a central atrium with cafés and restaurants.
Zaha Hadid Architects presented its design back in 2003, and although the station was originally meant to be completed in 2009, construction work did not begin until 2015. However, if you consider the dramatic developments in the course of the planning for various other major (German) projects – such as the Stuttgart 21 rail node, Berlin Brandenburg Airport and Hamburg's Elbphilharmonie concert hall – the Napoli Afragola delay seems neither remarkable nor particularly long.
The station has been provided a reinforced concrete structure that supports the elevated central concourse clad in Corian®. Using a technology originally developed for the construction of the MAXXI Museum in Rome, the concrete used within the station is a specific composition that enables optimum load-bearing performance in the curved concrete elements. As stated at the inauguration by Gioia Ghezzi, president of Ferrovie dello Stato, the Italian State Railway, "This unusual station is the work of great architects and is of enormous strategic significance. We wanted to build a station not only for transit passengers but also one that will, over the course of time, become a motor for southern Italy's further development and for creation of jobs and economic growth".