High-tech frenchness in Naples

After a striking proposition made on the occasion of the international architecture competition for the creation of the future TGV Napoli station - Afragola (Treno Alta Velocita) in 2003 - the architect of the Grande Bibliothèque is entrusted, from 2004, by the Metropolitana di Napoli with the studies for the redesigning of the Piazza Garibaldi, but also the realisation of the eponym subway station on the new line 1. It’s an effervescent scene where the Neapolitan intensity explodes, and where more than 50 millions of people pass by every year.

The square is a link of almost 6 hectares. It relies on a heterogeneous built heritage, and until now it was used as a huge available space serving the intermodality and the moving, without properly qualifying the public space to host the urban practices, and only offers to the residents, travellers and walkers, few spaces dedicated to the ramble and the relaxation.

Dominique Perrault takes cleverly advantage of the addition of a new metro station in the plan, to reform an urban space full of vitality but marked by the intensity of the car traffic, the fragmentation of the pedestrian spaces and the discontinuity of the itineraries. 

Perrault isn’t building one but four squares. On the east side, there are the historic square of the 19th century and the tramway ensuring the connection to the north with the Piazza Prince Umberto and to the south with the Piazza Nolana. On the north side, on more than 200 meters long, a series of parks and gardens as well as a water point marking the access to the metro bring some freshness to the square. In front of this landscaping device, a huge and open commercial gallery, inserted into the ground at 8 meters below the square level, slides and seeps down under the ground to join, through a network of buried galleries, the other stations.

In the requalification process of the piazza, the French architect mobilizes history to calm down geography, and vice versa. 

“That is a fact, to some extent, we are a little jealous of the other metro sites, where there are some ruins, where there are some traces of history. So we created our own traces of history and we inserted into the ground a huge gallery. The principle is what is below the ground comes up in a special way above the ground, or at least, with some natural light. This underground network comes up sometimes and allows to introduce this quality of natural light into the depths, to the metro station located at 40 meters down into the ground.”

Photo Credits: Peppe Maisto; Dominque Perrault Architecture


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