Naples Art Stations Project

interior Toledo Station

For most of us the daily train commute is a perfunctory and uninspiring journey but for travellers in Naples Italy it is a very different story, thanks to Metro Napoli’s Art Stations project.

The Art Stations Project of Naples grew from the city government’s desire to create beautiful, functional public transport centres that offered an opportunity for the people of the city to get up close and personal with contemporary art while acting as an agent to invigorate the surrounding urban landscape.

Under the artistic direction of Achille Bonto Oliva, portions of the exterior and interior of 13 metro stations have undergone a transformation from non de-script public space to public art museum by some of the world’s best known contemporary artists and internationally renowned architects. The Art Stations are distributed along the lines 1 and 6 of the metro network and include more than 180 pieces of art.

The Toledo Metro station is the latest to receive a make over and opened in September 2012, it was designed by the firm of Catalan architect Oscar Tusquets Blanca. The station is 50 meters below ground and extends under the water table, its subterranean location was used to inform the design, which centres on water and light. A large cone, the Crater de Luz, extends from the expansive underground hall to street level linking all levels of the station and functions as a light well with the sun at one end and LED light installations at the other.

Escalator with light well

Escalator with the Crater de Luz

The interior of Toledo station is covered in a spectacular bisazza mosaic, transporting commuters underwater by capturing the movement of water and light with varying shades of blue. The underground levels house works of art by South African artist, William Kentridge, light panels by Robert Wilson and works by Achille Cevoli, the art installations pay homage to the city of Naples and the builders of the metro station.

Interior of Toledo station with Bisazza mosaic

Interior of Toledo station with Bisazza mosaic

William Kentridge mosaic

William Kentridge mosaic

The stunning transformation of Toledo’s metro station and the Art Stations Project has attracted much international praise and recognition, last year Toledo station was declared to be the most impressive subway station in Europe by the Daily Telegraph Travel.

As our cities grow, public space becomes more important as it provides communal areas for city dwellers and functions as places of interaction, rest and transit. The Art Stations Project in Naples has set a high standard for the design of public transport hubs and urban renewal and makes a great case for the inclusion of good design and art in our urban landscape.