LUXURYCULTURE.COM - Naples gets art on track


Laying new lines for culture, Naples’ art scene takes to the tracks with a line-up of art inspired metro stations from world leading artists, including Zaha Hadid, Anish Kapoor and Sol Lewitt. The city’s transport authority is raising Naples’ game.

Naples may no longer be the first city to spring to mind when recounting art capitals, but the administration of the Naples Metropolitan rail system aims to restore the southern Italian city’s former reputation as a cultural hotspot. In the 1990s an ambitious plan to create a high speed regional metro system between Caserta to Salerno, via Naples to fit with a major town planning project inspired a major initiative to create a public rail network dedicated to art, envisioned by a star cast of leading artists and architects from Sol Lewitt, to Massimiliano Fuksas. As designer and architect Karim Rashid, responsible for the city’s Universita station explains “A subway station is a temporal, transitional space, yet the commuter is contained for a short period of time before continuing their journey. As they transition from one environment to another, they are most likely reviewing the day’s previous events, or preparing for the next task. Our concept focuses on the commuter experience within the train station, and how the surrounding environment can serve as a respite in a day’s schedule. “

Once the project is completed (forecasted for 2011), the number of stations will rise from 45 to 114, with an increase from two, to eight metropolitan rail links to the existing regional and national lines. The new, extended infrastructure, which currently serves 25% of the population, will be utilised by 70%, reducing congestion and pollution; common problems of the Campania region. Napoli’s Academy of Fine Arts School of Restoration will protect, maintain and catalogue all artworks under a three-year deal to preserve the culture, history and beauty of Naples’ grand art vision.

Headed by Italian design maestro Alessandro Mendini - the project’s art director - at the beginning of the century the city unveiled five "Art stations," serving Line 1 of the Naples subway. Beginning with Dante station, designed by architect Gae Aulenti in 2002, stations by Mendini and Domenico Orlacchio followed as the administration of Naples Metropolitan rail system sought to make travel on public transport a truly cultural experience.

Line 1 is the keystone of this exciting city transport plan, not only as a fundamental city link, but because of its high-tech, modern design, and of course its star credentials. Upon final completion, the circuitous route will service 27 stations from residential suburbs to cultural and historical attractions within the city center. Second phase, Line 6 (Light Rail Metro) followed in 2007, although stations such as San Pasquale, designed by xxx and xxx’s Chiaia are still under construction. The four complete stations of the eight stop line feature works from British graphic artist Alan Fletcher, Brazilian photographer Salvino Campos and Franco Scognamiglio, a native of Napoli. Linked to line 6, four cable stations will provide links between Naple’s hilly regions and the city.

The latest stage of the project will see the realisation of 18 starchitect designed stations (including Rashid’s Universita) as part of the new and existing rail network. The star line-up also includes artist Anish Kapoor and London architects Future Systems, Mario Botta, Boris Podrecca and Richard Rogers – responsible for Naples airport’s Capodichino station, located at the end of line 1, which will link the terminal to other main public transport hubs within the city.

Although not strictly part of the line, Zaha Hadid’s Stazione Napoli Afragola, situated three kilometres to the north of Naples, will be the Neapolitan "gate" of the high speed TAV train line, cutting the travel time from its original two hours, to less than one. Naples’ transport system gives the art of travel new meaning, with an ambitious cultural initiative, that will change the face of the city’s metro stations.

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