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main index   © Jeff Matthews   entry Feb 2007

The Hills are Alive…

Poster for architect Richard Rogers' lecture
held in
Feb. 2007at San Carlo on the
future of the metropolitana in Naples.

…with the Sound of Metros.  (Please don't write me. I know the spelling is different; I'm just running out of clever titles for articles about trains.)

When they started construction for the new Naples Metro in the 1970s, everyone knew it would take a long time. The technical difficulties of tunneling beneath one million people from 600 feet down to sea level were formidable. Everyone was right—it did take a long time, and it's not nearly finished. What is done, however, is impressive: you can start up at the high end of the Vomero hill, way past the hospitals, almost to Secondigliano, and 12 or 13 stations later be at Piazza Dante, downtown, in a few minutes. What is left, however, is difficult. Piazza Dante is now to connect to via Toledo further into the city; then to Piazza Municipio (the city hall) and the passenger port of Naples; then run a straight line by the university  (stop) to via Duomo (stop) to the main train station at Piazza Garibaldi. Those five stops—Toledo, Municipio, University, Duomo, Garibaldi—are in various stages of completion.

The original target date for completion was 2006. That was pushed back to 2010/11 There are both technical and bureaucratic reasons for this. In terms of engineering, the line near the port is getting water seepage from the sea, no doubt coming through the landfill that the port facilities are built on. Bureaucratically, the entire section from the city hall to the train station runs along, over and through some important archaeology, including the original harbor of the ancient Roman city. At times, there are more archaeologists than workers scurrying around the construction sites; their job is to decide what stays and what gets plowed under. At the Municipio stop, what stays will be incorporated into an underground museum of sorts. It's an impressive plan but has delayed completion.


Rogers' design for the airport station entail a fan-shaped
roof over a central shaft that leads down to trains.

Even more impressive is the route the metro is to follow after it leaves the main station. It will rise up to the airport at Capodichino and run out through Secondigliano, swing around and join up with the Piscinola station (now in operation), thus encircling the city.

The plans for the very important airport station are in the hands of renowned British-Italian architect, Richard Rogers, well-known for his modernist and functionalist designs and whose works include the Centre Pompidou in Paris (1972-74), the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (1984), the Millennium Dome in London (1999), and the Barajas Airport Terminal 4 in Madrid (2005). Roger's signature design is to leave the internal spaces uncluttered by locating most of the building's services (plumbing, heating ducts, and stairs) on the outside. (Hmmmmm. From Bauhaus to Outhaus?)

The key feature of the airport station will be the fan-shaped design. The published literature about the new station has this to say:

The design for the Capodichino Station represents a significant opportunity to contribute to the regeneration of the airport itself. The new scheme positions the underground station at the heart of the airport. This will help reduce the walking distance between the train platforms and the entrances to the departure and arrival terminals. The wide roof section over the new pedestrian piazza helps to define routes into and out of the station. Colour-coded escalators help to orientate and channel passenger flows through the station. The roof which covers this well allows natural light to penetrate deep into the internal space of the station, as well as allowing natural ventilation to circulate throughout the building. It also provides protection from sunlight and rain for the piazza, creating a public space which offers a safe, protected environment for those passengers travelling between the station and the airport.


It will be finished in 2012, and if you believe that, I have an airport I'd like to sell you. One question: if the plumbing is on the outside, does that mean I will have to go outside to…well, you know.

     [update: ——> see number 15 in further entries...below]

     [update: 2014...good plan, but alas...]

Further entries on the metropolitana:


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