Napoli || Italy
In revamping Montesanto station in Naples, Silvio D’Ascia has used numerous strategies and tools to ensure the redone building fits seamlessly and functionally into the complex surrounds, the local transport system and even the broader Naples transport infrastructure. In the late 19th-century, urban expansion was moving rapidly up the hill, as people sought pleasant sites, views of the bay and new accommodation. In response, an enlightened decision was made to build the Chiaia and then Montesanto (1889) funicular railway lines to provide rapid and easy access to Vomero hill from the city centre. The station was upgraded at various times during the 20th century and the latest effort ensures none of this historical dimension is lost, while prioritising the rail and funicular connections of this part of the Naples transport network. Although
different companies run the varying modes of transport that meet here, Montesanto is a truly linked transport hub, bringing together a commuter train line, an underground line (no. 2) and the funicular itself. The station is also important for culture and tourism, providing access to key areas, like the medieval fortress of Castel Sant’Elmo, Certosa di San Martino (a charterhouse dedicated to St Martin) and various archaeological sites. In such a paradigm, the historical architecture of certain buildings is a fundamental starting point. The restoration work has used the old idea that stations should be a stately part of the urban fabric. This is conveyed through the two painted tower-like structures with tuff moulding, cornices and square pilasters that mark the entrance arcade. Similarly, the viewing platform above the entrance is
a typical example of art nouveau cast-iron work, with embellished arches and load-bearing columns. While such historical parts were restored, where changes or additions were needed in response to technical improvements, a far freer approach was adopted. The new structures help link all parts of the station, forming a large, single space where the roof soars high above and that offers passengers ease of access. The roof on the main hall draws from the art nouveau viewing platform, using a combination of steel and glass for the hall and the vertical connections. Here, a truss-and-beam structure covers the three transversal aisles running parallel to the historical roof terrace. The platform area also has a roof characterised by about 1,000 m2 of steel and glass. Natural light comes in from above and the sides, but is also supplemented by hanging
lights that, in combination, give the entire station its light, ethereal sense. The revamping work also focused on the various facilities that make the station more welcoming, such as waiting spaces and eating areas. The "bridge" over the platforms has been turned into a space ready to cater for relatively lengthy waits, allowing access to the roof terrace on the north tower, on the funicular side. Among other aspects, this terrace is a spectacular vantage point for viewing the old heart of Naples. The entrance hall is not only open to the piazza, but also acts as both the departure point for the stairs and escalators to the platforms and a shopping area that is suitably sized given the dimensions and use of the station. On the southern side of the building, the Paradiso steps are serviced by six pairs of escalators that provide easy
access to the monumental Santissima Trinità delle Monache abbey. On the other side, the mechanics of the funicular system have also been given an urban makeover with the addition of a facade that lets in light and air, but is protected by a brise soleil of glass panes that reflect the outside urban world while also following, in a combination of transparency and light, the rise of the funicular.
Client: Ferrosud 2 on the behalf of S.E.P.S.A. - Compagnia regionale di trasporti
Gross Floor Area: 4 690 m2
Cost of Construction: 58.700.000 Euros
Architects: Agence Silvio d'Ascia - Architecte
Technological Plants: Tecnosistem
Photography: © Barbara Jodice
Silvio d’Ascia, (Naples, 1969) has lived and worked in Paris since 1993. After a period spent as an associate architect, he established his own firm in 2000. Deeply influenced by his Italian humanities education, his work is distinguished by a cross-sectorial approach, encompassing architecture, urban planning and design, in projects that always reflect the history and spirit of the site so as to create new urban forms with cultural continuity. In Italy – Naples in particular – this approach can be seen in a series of projects: Montesanto railway station (2003–09), which included the conversion of the attached Trinità delle Monache convent; Torregaveta railway station in Bacoli (design stage); a new university campus in Ercolano (under construction); a COOP shopping centre in a working class district of Naples (2005–10); the Porta del Parco spa and arts complex in Bagnoli (2007–11); and a 17-hectare eco-district with a multimodal exchange in a former industrial zone of Naples.
Parallel to these projects, D’Ascia has participated in a number of international competitions with AREP.
In Italy, these include the Roma EUR conference centre (1999–2000, 2nd place with GR Associés Sarl); the Turin Porta Susa RFI station (construction commenced in 2011 with handover in 2012), incorporating a services tower (design stage); and the new Bologna central station (2008) in association with AREP and Jean Nouvel (parent company).
Their international competitions in China include: a series of competitions for the Data Center Building Complex technology and financial centre for a group of companies, including the DDDPC project for the Shanghai Stock Exchange (2006–10) and the SBDPC project for Shanghai Bank (2007–12); and hospital complexes in Beijing (won in 2006) and in Shanghai (finalist in 2008).
In France, after the construction of a nursing home (1995–2001) in Rebais (in association with GR Associés Sarl), D’Ascia oversaw the restoration and designed the extension of the Maeght Foundation in Saint Paul de Vence (2010). More recent projects include a green centre in Marseille (2012), an office building in Nancy (2012–13) and a series of residential renovations in Paris. He has also participated in numerous competitions for major rail projects, including the Charles de Gaulle Express (2007–08), railway stations on the new high-speed lines in the south of France (2010–12), and the renovation of retail spaces at Montparnasse station in Paris (competition currently in progress, 2013).
In 2013, D’Ascia won the ONCF’s international invitation-only competition for the new TGV railway station in Kenitra, Morocco (in association with Moroccan architecture firm OKA, Casablanca). In 2010, his design of the Montesanto railway station in Naples won the INARCH ANCE regional prize. In 2011, the Porta del Parco spa and cultural centre in Bagnoli was awarded the national INARCH ANCE prize, while in 2012, it received the International Galvanizing Award for the best project in galvanized steel. In the same year, the Torino Porta Susa railway station won the Eurosolar Prize in Berlin for the best integration of a photovoltaic roof into a public building in an urban setting.