The Napoli Afragola high-speed station, known as the “gateway to the south”, was built by Astaldi using a design by Zaha Hadid Architects. The first phase was inaugurated in June 2017 and, by the time the project is complete, the station will have become a vital hub between northern and southern Italy. The national railways company, FS Italiane, is seeking to welcome in a new age of railway architecture and so, for this project, it held an international competition that was won by the aforesaid Zaha Hadid Architects. Conceived as a bridge, the station is a local landmark and an integral part of the surrounding urban fabric, helping drive the regeneration of the Greater Naples area. Its curving form snakes for over 400 m, with a total area of roughly 30,000 sq m. At times, the structure rises as much as 8 m above the tracks, bending into an S-shape at its tip to connect the western entrances, in the Afragola municipality, and the eastern ones, leading out to the road network. This helps reconnect two areas previously split by the tracks. Sustainability was central to the design, with extensive use of glass, steel and concrete to materially define spaces, differentiating between the concourse for the platforms and the shopping mall. Glazed roof panels are supported by exposed concrete and Corian, which is used both inside and outside as it is resistant to the elements and chemical corrosion. Mapei was involved in the construction of the external envelope and the internal flooring. The R&D labs came up with a special, fine grain concrete mixture for smoothing the exposed concrete façades. This was then coated with a transparent acrylic paint to provide protection, without detracting from the bare concrete look. Resistance to moderate/heavy footfall was central to selecting resin-coating for the floors, offering excellent mechanical durability and user safety.
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