Contribution to the XIX Congress of the International Union of Architects 1996 Barcelona, from June 29, 1996 to July 7, 1996

Architect and consultant for projects of public transport
Helene-Weber-Allee 15 80637 Munich/München Germany

The XIX congress of the International Union of Architects is discussing, beneath a wide range of other subjects, one of the most important tasks we have to face in the coming decades: the increasing mobility caused by effects of a world which is coming more and more together. This enormous task also gives chances to restructure our cities, to resolve the problems of the the developments based on mobility, as well as the relation of transport infrastructure to the city of today, influencing the future shape of the city.

At the end of the last century, in various cities of Europe and North America, the buildings for urban and interurban transport gave a new shape and image to the cities. One of the most important examples is the Vienna "Stadtbahn" of Otto Wagner, as well as the large train stations in Paris, Berlin, London, Milan, Budapest, Leipzig, Madrid and Barcelona. The roofs of the platform halls of the big stations for far distance connections were built with iron constructions. Their height is enormous, giving arriving passengers an adequate reception (see photo of Leipzig main station).

In places where, due to the structure of the population, it seemed possible to allow public transport on the surface, systems came into existence with elevated sections (Paris, Berlin, New York, Chicago, example of the exterior of a Berlin metro station, see photograph). However, more value was attached to the architectural effort of bridges, elevated sections and stations on the surface than to the design of underground spaces. Otto Wagner's constructions for the Vienna "Stadtbahn" achieved a high-quality combination of technical factors and formal design. Subtle patterns consisting of simple floor tiles and selectively positioned, not too often applied ornamentation of constructively necessary steel parts determine the impression of elegance of this historic transport system in Vienna. Wagner raised constructive necessity to an aesthetic level.

The classical language of architecture was the style of the stations, but there were also exceptions, built or planned with an utopic character. The planned built structure of Antonio Sant'Elia, designed in 1914 expresses visually the dynamic movement of the trains as well as the dynamic technical development of that era.

Several station buildings in the outskirts of London were part of the "corporate identity" of the London Underground system. There are cubic or round buildings, well visible, which are landmarks, points of orientation and points of recognising, helping to the endless dwelling quarters to gain identity and helping to the passengers to easily change the transport mode.

Moscow metro stations were built like real palaces, at a time when western countries built railway and metro stations without ornamental accessories. In the Mayakovskaya metro station, built in 1938, indirect artificial lighting in the ceiling domes give the impression of natural daylight (see photographs of examples of the Moscow metro "Sokol" and "Kurskaya" stations).

At the end of this century, we are in a similar situation as there were the questions at the end of the last one. The known solutions for transportation problems are not sufficient for the future development. To keep our cities, in Europe and in North America, as well as in all countries of the world which are developing with an economical growth farely over the rates we know here, well in function, and in order to keep them livable, we shall look for new solutions and to improve the well known ones.

In this context it is important to face the question of the architecture of buildings for urban public transport, the impact of these buildings on the city and the quality of architecture of the stations and their interior design, especially the design of underground stations. The spacial concept of the stations is the only which is perceived by the passenger while moving in the city by a metro system.

The construction of an urban transportation system (new ones will be developed in Bangkok, Djakarta and other big cities) has to combine a great variety of interests of an urban society. The architects' tasks range from town-planning decisions to detailed design. The beneficial value of the stations, maintained at the necessary economic minimum, does not satisfy the users of a railway in a post-industrial comunity: an optimal appearance contributes to a high esthetic level of the urban railway as an efficient means of transport and to an improvement of the traffic and townplanning situation.

Most of the countries are making efforts to compensate the increasing needs to resolve transportation problems because traffic congestion has also economical dimensions. We spoil a lot of time, energy, and our health; and we face the fact of a heavy decrease of life quality.

>From an overall economic point of view, an underground railway has an extremely beneficial effect on the urban structure of a conurbation. Efficient operation, frequency, accessibility and image of an underground railway are prerequisites to reduce the use of private cars by the citizens of a town, without restricting the mobility necessary for the economic and cultural life of a modern society.

There is a great demand for searching solutions for buildings for mobility. The use of private cars is a sign of self-estimate of people in nearly all societies. We have to help in the searching of alternatives. Especially at places where private cars and public transportation are in equal competition, acts forcing people to give up the use of private cars are not sufficient: the personal choice of everyone can only be influenced by a visible improvement of the quality of public transport.

Constructions for public mass transit have to be built and equipped with high architectural quality.The citizens will then use these transport systems. This is the only way to improve life quality and environmental conditions of our metropolitan areas. After all, the appearance of a public transport system also characterizes the reputation of a metropolis in the opinion of its visitors.

How can we achieve these aims ?
The visual impression of the train stops and of the rolling stock has to express that the prize of the journey is worth to be spent.

Stations of transport means within cities are places for spending well the waiting time, important points in the transport network which is the skeleton of an urban area, points where people meet and the image holder of a city.

The hall of Glasgow Central with new shops and service equipment in the historical station as well as the "Travel Centre" in the Newcastle upon Tyne railway station are examples for giving a high level of convenience to the passengers.

The Chicago North Western Terminal is a combined commuter station and office building complex replacing a train station. The building is a gateway to the central business district.

The inhabitants of large cities spend approximately one and a half hours a day in transit. The number of interchange stations should therefore be reduced as far as possible. When it becomes necessary to change trains, the pedestrian sections should be short and clearly arranged. Already during the planning of the basic concept, the highest possible degree of clear and logical construction should be striven for as well as architecturally coping with the dimensions which become necessary due to functional reasons.

The concept of intermodal links between individual cars or buses in lower crowded areas and the train stops of the metro or train system has to be planned well, in order to give the individual sensation to the passenger that the loss of time was very small.

The connection of the stations with the public space
Station entrance situations require the planners' full attention, especially ways to subsurface spaces. It is important to lead the passenger to the train or to the surface, accompanied by good light, and with interesting ways and places (San Francisco, Powell Station).

Montreal owns a large system of subterranean connections for pedestrians between the central city metro stations, connected with big inner spaces in office buildings. The metro stations have a spatial design, using the characteristcs of concrete, forming ceilings and bridges.

The Montreal, Paris and Washington examples of contemporary station design explain architectural conceptions which do not only master the functional needs for huge passenger masses. The station design tries to form sensations of spatial and architectural quality by creative use of material, lighting and detail.

Washington Metro stations are lit indirectly, and have huge halls with points from where passengers can overlook spaces and well visible connections to corresponding trains.

With a direct lighting system the (blended) light of the fluorescent tubes effect a harmonious, intense luminance of the complete floor and wall area of the station, the ceiling remains visually dark, even with pale material. Punctate lighting or intermittent shafts of light lend rhythm to the space and provide the limiting sufaces of the space with more plasticity by casting shadows. Indirect lighting of a ceiling area provides more lightness. Independently of the actual intensity of the illumination, light surfaces make an underground station appear more spacious.

A high quality of the interior design of the stations can be achieved be creating spaces with a lot of natural or artificial light, with floor and wall surfaces in bright colours, and last but not least, with an architectural concept which allows passengers to get very quickly survey of the station.

Small openings are quite adequate to allow a sufficiently noticeable amount of daylight to reach an underground station. The spectrum which, compared to artificial light, is changed is actually noticable. Also the depth of the station is easier to determine from the platform.

The Munich Dülferstraße metro station is a project we were in charge of, in collaboration with the authorities of the Munich city administration. The station was opened in 1993, at this moment end of the line 2. Feldmoching metro station which is currently being completed is the interchange station of this metro line with the airport train.

We developed a study to improve the railway station of München-Pasing. We proposed to build a hall between the historical station building and the platforms, with shops, cafés and other services for the passenger on two levels. The architectural idea is similar to the types of the ancient shopping galleries in the big cities.

These new metro projects will compensate the waiting time with the visual quality of a well designed building - giving a possible solution to the demands for the station as a part of public space and a part of the daily environment.

In 1994 the new Fröttmaning station with intermodal connection to urban and suburban buses and with park-and-ride facilities was opened. New architectural elements, like a bridge connecting the platform and the park-and-ride facilities, may also express that convenience of the buildings is the way to introduce public transport into the daily practice of poeple.

Visionary future aspects
High quality design is also a big advantage for the economy of a city or a city district. The Canadian cities of Toronto and Montreal exemplified the successful joint development of transit facilities and real estate.

Amoung the examples of future projects I found an interesting project of a Car-Tower. The necessity to lower the number of cars drastically in the cities gave the idea to build a tower for 10.000 cars with a train connection to the city. This new urban nodal point can also be built between cities in a urbanized area. The "bridge" between both parts of the building is used as a hotel. Several service branches can be here, people can meet half the way between two cities.

In a well organised city centre metro station, cafés or pubs with long opening times and the possibility to overlook the platform hall favour the acceptance of suburban train transportation also in the late evening hours. Shops can be integrated into the different levels of the station space. On the platform, these facilities can improve the atmosphere of the station.

We like to introduce to this conference a planing for a station in Catalonia, developed in 1995 with KGB Architects (Joaquim Bover, Enric Bayona and Carles Garrido) in Girona.

The planned high speed train line from South France to Barcelona and Madrid will be connected to Girona. The proposed location of the high speed line is in the west of the city and its surroundings, parallel to the existing motorway A 7. The authors of this project wish to win a big number of clients for the High Speed Train and to plan with this station an exemplary contribution to the research for solutions to environmental problems: There is great emphasis on a direct change from the TAV / TGV to all means of transport. The project we propose will be an efficient intermodal interchange point between high speed train, regional trains, air traffic and the road network, giving easy access for a big number of inhabitants and visitors of this urbanized area to the transport system.

The form of the building has moved lines in the ground plan as well as in the longitudinal section. It's concave shape in vertical as well as in horizontal section, can possibly give an image of what a symbol of a station of a High Speed Train can be. One side is an opening to slow down the speed of the arriving train till the point "zero", the station itself is the point of "turning the energy in the other direction", and beginning from this point the train starts up to the next station, with high speed, leaving form a symmetric "trumpet".

The functions of the building are structured into three levels. The upper level is formed by the platform hall, elevated about 10 metres upon the altitude of the soil (entrance level). A large hall of steel and glass welcomes the passenger getting off the train. The entrance hall is at one level with services of the station, booking counters, shops, rooms for technical equipment, equipment for controlling and running the high speed train, with parking for cars in the north part and a bus station in the south part of the ground level. The intermediate level contains the same number of parking places as the ground level does, as well as in the centre of the station building, shops, services and restaurants.

The building is charcterized by two materials. The entrance façade will be covered by a curtain wall of metal, and also the supporting structure of the roof will be of steel. The roof, and the side of the building which is facing the large garden, will be of sun reflecting glass, in order to prevent the platform hall from summer heat. The structure supporting the platform will be well formed concrete, which can be seen by the passengers without necessity of covering.

Between the station and the highway A 7 we designed a park with a large number of green plants. The colour of the building, the colour of the corten steel in the façade, as well as the glass which covers the other parts of the building, reflecting the green colour of the trees and the blue colour of the sky, will integrate the building totally into the surrounding landscape.

Constructions for public mass transit have to be built and equipped with high architectural quality to make sure that the means of transport receives a high degree of acceptance by the population of the cities, in order to encourage people to use trains and tramways as the most efficient and comfortable means of transport.

Thank you for your attention