BBC Culture, Best buildings from 2017, Napoli afragola, Zaha Hadid Architects, ZHA

BBC Culture lists metro station in Italy by ZHA as one of 2017’s best buildings

BBC Culture has listed the Napoli Afragola Station by Zaha Hadid Architects as one of the best buildings in 2017, among seven other landmark buildings that were completed this year.

According to the list, the station design is “one of 13 for Italy’s expanding high-speed rail network, writhes up and over eight railway tracks, connecting once-divided outer suburbs of Naples.

“It is both a spectacular, snake-like bridge expressing the dynamism of Italy’s 300kph railways and their equally serpentine trains and a main-line station complete with ticket offices, cafes, offices, along with haunting views of Mount Vesuvius. Because this is earthquake ­and volcano ­country, the intense and ingenious structural engineering of the building, by Italian State Railways’ engineers, is expressed throughout the forms of its dynamic architecture. While its sinuous structure appears seamless, the huge building is made up of individual parts that, if an earthquake occurs, will be able to move independently of one another.”

Designed as an urbanised public bridge that connects the communities on both sides of the railway, the station’s layout prioritises pedestrian circulation and minimises distances for those embarking and alighting at Napoli Afragola, as well as those connecting to different train services.

Passenger pathways have also influenced the geometry of the spaces within. Large entrances at both ends of the station welcome and guide visitors up to the elevated public zones lined with shops and other amenities. Visitors from either side of the station meet in a central atrium above overlooked by cafes and restaurants.

Constructed as a reinforced concrete base, the station also features an elevated concourse of 200 steel ribs clad in Corian with a glazed roof.

The Napoli Afragola Station is a recent addition to the planned high speed rail services connecting Bari and Reggio Calabria with the north of Italy and Europe. Set for 2022, the rail infrastructure will create an important hub at Napoli Afragola, which will serve the entire 15 million residents of the Campania region.

“Most importantly,” BBC Culture continued, “the Zaha Hadid-designed station is also a powerful symbol of how, economically, southern Italy might yet perk up.”

Other regional projects on BBC Culture’s list of the best buildings from 2017 include Musée Yves Saint Laurent in Marrakech by Studio Ko and the Louvre Abu Dhabi by Atelier Jean Nouvel.