A station offering a new sensory and esthetic experience, characterized by soft volumes, vivacious florescent colors and innovative materials which can properly accommodate expressive and poetic needs; a transit area capable of touching the emotional sphere of the passenger, bringing beauty and pleasure into the daily commute - these were among the objectives at the heart of the University Station-Line 1 Project of the unparalleled architect and designer Karim Rashid.
With university students and all metro users in mind, the Anglo-Egyptian architect envisioned spaces “that embody the knowledge and language of the new digital age, that transmit the ideas of simultaneous communication, innovation and mobility, ideas which characterize their ongoing Third Technical Revolution”. Thus, from the moment they descend the stairs leading to the station, visitors find themselves surrounded by a multitude of words coined during the past fifty years, words such as “virtual”, “network”, “operation”, “portable”, “database”, “interface”, “software” printed in pink and green on a ceramic background.
The ample and luminous atrium of the station lends a “softening” friendly esthetic which is spectacular at the same time thanks to the profusion of vivacious colors and digital images covering all wall and floor surfaces as well as the sensual qualities of the materials such as its perfectly smooth Corian walls or reflective steel of the vaults.
But the color contrast is also utilized to facilitate the circulation of passengers: the two dominant colors fuschia-pink and lime green indicate the respective directions towards the platforms for Piscinola (currently Dante) and for Garibaldi (to be opened in the future).
Beyond the turnstiles and Ticket Booth, on two large cylindrical pillars (Conversational profile), particular modeling of the volumes allow profiles of faces to be seen from all vantage points, a metaphor of dialogue and communication among human beings.
Within a long light box (Ikon) on the back wall, a series of figures, seemingly three-dimensional, appear to float. Between the light box and the black columns, Synapsi, a sinuous sculpture in satin-finished steel, recalls human intelligence and in particular the synapses of our brain.
Moving towards the escalator leading to the Piscinola Direction platform, we are accompanied by light which springs from the translucent crystal ceiling panels, silkscreened in pink and light blue with images from Rashid’s repertoire. The same decorative motif is repeated on the walls surrounding the descent. On the -1 mezzanine level, the colors of the flooring change from black with light blue, yellow and green flecks, as found in the atrium, to vivacious orange-pink tones. Pink is also found in the background of the circular light box in which bears a yellow cross.
On the sides of the escalator, the walls are covered with light blue crystal panels with light silkscreened decoration. It is interesting to note how the use of shiny finishing materials helps to accentuate the luminosity of the environments and to create a variety of mirroring effects.
Arriving on the -2 level, our attention is captured by the colors and shapes of the digital graphic motif which is also represented in the large floor tiles thus creating a fascinating pattern with three-dimensional effects in yellow, pink and light blue. In addition to the presence of two rectangular light boxes, on this level, one finds a spectacular surprise: at the height of the steps, giant images of Dante Alighieri and Beatrice - a homage of Rashid to the father of Italian literature in order to underline the importance and the vitality of the link between humanistic culture and contemporary language, particularly important in a city of strong academic tradition such as Naples.
One then arrives to the platform level, where behind the curved benches, which recall the curvilinear design so treasured by the artist-architect, there are four large panels made with the lenticular H3D system. The three-dimensional figures reproduced on the panels seem to move and rotate in the space as the passenger passes by. Images in movement which emphasize and enhance the dynamic heart of the metro: movement of the train.