Architype Dialogue presents
What was the most difficult issue about working within this building type or the most unexpected challenge that may have influenced new thought in your project?
The most difficult issue was the dimension of the Bologna station project and its relationship with the context all around. The size of a new station of such importance always defined the layout of the city development in the XIX° century and also now they influence the new urban development.
In the competition phase they allowed to design 2 towers 70m high on the station to guest an hotel and offices of the rail company. Our decision was to avoid to make towers in a city like Bologna, that always developed only horizontally. I think this was an issue that was appreciated by the jury. In this sense, the project tries to dialogue with the urban context and explain what the architects think about its development and its nature.
Another important point was the people circulation from many entrance points and how they can work each other in the dynamicity of the circulation inside the station. This is always an important issue in the development of public infrastructure like a station. We studied a very simple shape that could allow the most simple flexibility inside and create large open spaces for an easy public circulation.
Did this project expand or evolve your role as an architect in any way? In general, do you feel that the role of the architect is changing on current projects?
I think for such projects like a station, the design is always a process of different disciplines combined together: circulation, infrastructure, security, transportation, structure, mep. The role of the architect is to coordinate all these different disciplines in one direction and to create a new project that can combine all the different issues in one way.
Now with internet the architect can easily work with engineers offices from all over the world and this changed the work of the architect. Now he can easily get and understand different types of experiences from everywhere and this allows him to design a new kind of project, with international experiences that were not possible before internet diffusion. In this sense I think the role of the architect has been changed in the recent years.
How is your building possible today in a way that it may not have been before and how have trends in technology and society inspired new thought and solutions?
The general contractor are getting used to new technologies due to the new way of designing buildings after the deconstructivism period. They are getting to use steel structures, GRC, glass fibers panels and other new materials that were developed in the recent years to create new organic shapes or dynamic architectures.
This process of development of the design has been followed by the development of the contractors experiences and technologies. This makes us to design shapes and solutions that were not possible 20 years ago. The use of computer and 3d modeling developed in the same time and it has been an important aspect of this new solutions development.
Our design for the new Bologna station was developed also following the new social needs of the city. In its location the new station creates a bridge between the center of the city and its downtown. This role of urban connection was an important issue to be developed. The station was conceived not only as a building to go to travel somewhere else, but also as a big open space of commercial and public activities that the citizens could use every day for the daily life.
In this sense we provided commercial malls inside the station, a multi-cinema to guest movie projections, conference center and rock concerts, a sport hall for 300 people to play volleyball, basket and football indoor. All these activities belong from the desire to change the mono-functionality of the station and make it a piece of the city with its complexity and its multilayered functions. It is a new kind of station.
In the context of this project, how is your office and design process being influenced by current trends in academic curricula and incoming young architects? In turn, how are current projects and processes guiding the ongoing reformulation and development of academic curricula?
Our project has been influenced by our own intent to create a new interesting project for the city of Bologna and to re-think the role of a station building in such a context in this time period.
Due to the delicate relationship with the context we decided to divide the long new station in three different buildings, with three different architecture characteristics. This process of de-composition of the volumes allowed to reduce the urban impact of such a big project and creates three different occasions of dialogue with the city and the buildings of the existing station.
The main volume follows the length of the old station buildings and reach the bridge of connection between the center of Bologna to the downtown. It has been conceived as a big open space with commercial activities, waiting lounges, ticket counters distributed in a random way inside its rectangular geometry. At the end of the station we designed a different building with green roof for the plants rooms, a sport hall and a rear entrance to the station. A commercial glass tube connects these two volumes with shops and moving walkways like in the airports.
This connection of three different solutions makes the station building lighter and create the complexity of a part of the city.
Architype Review thanks Andrea Maffei for his interview and for contributing to this collection of Architype Dialogue.