If you’re heading to Italy this summer, you’ll be one of the first to travel through Zaha Hadid’s eye-catching Napoli Afragola train station on the new high-speed rail link. The Naples-based station will connect around 15 million southern Italians, living in major regions including Puglia, Calabria and Sicily, with the north – and the rest of Europe.
Designed in Zaha Hadid’s signature style, with sweeping curves and crisp-white minimalist interiors, the huge 30,000-square-metre station was inaugurated by the Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni to celebrate the completion of the first phase of the project.
After winning the competition to design the station in 2003, the project has been in the works for 14 years. Positioned 12km (seven miles) away from central Naples, the station is expected to have a huge impact on easing congestion, as well as playing an integral part in southern Italy’s rail network – travellers will now be able to catch a high-speed train that runs from Naples to Rome in less than an hour.
‘The design enlarges the public walkway over the eight railway tracks to such a degree that this walkway becomes the station’s main passenger concourse – a bridge housing all the services and facilities for departing, arriving and connecting passengers, with direct access to all platforms below,’ explains Zaha Hadid Architects.
At the heart of the elevated concourse, which runs along a 450-metre (1,450ft.) curved path, is a spacious atrium that’s surrounded by restaurants and cafés, with boutique retailers lining the rest of the space; large entrances at either end of the station will guide passengers up this raised level. The space is flooded with natural daylight pouring in through skylights that run along the building, and the walls are clad in smooth Corian, creating an interplay between light and shadow.
Energy use has been considered in the design – the roof lights, coupled with solar panels, minimise the amount used to heat the station, while natural ventilation and ground-source cooling/heating systems are in place to further minimise consumption.
Trains began to operate from Napoli Afragola in June 2017, with 18 high-speed rail services running out of the station initially, which will increase to 28 in 2020 when the station has been fully completed.