Kirchplatz Station's ArtistEnne Haehnle
Graf Adolf Platz Station's ArtistManuel Franke
Benrather Strasse Station's ArtistThomas Stricker
Heinrich Heine Allee Station's ArtistRalph Broeg
Schadowstraße Station's ArtistUrsula Damm
Pempelforter Strasse Station's ArtistHeike Klussmann
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From the architect. The Wehrhahn Line is the largest and most sophisticated recent urban development project in Düsseldorf, reaching its successful conclusion this weekend after 15 years of construction and planning. One highlight of the route is the design of the new U-Bahn tunnel and the six U-Bahn stations. Architecture and art strikingly come together, characterizing impressions of the spaces. The artists also contributed to the remarkable decisions as equal partners from the beginning of planning and have not permitted any advertising spaces in the new stations.
The project was implemented by the office of netzwerkarchitekten from Darmstadt together with artist Heike Klussmann, who together in 2001 won the EU-wide architecture competition for all six stations against major international competition. Together they developed the overall concept of a U-Bahn tunnel as an “underground continuum,” similar to a giant snake as it slips through the earth, widening at the respective stations before continuing on its path. In contrast to the colored spaces of public space, it features a light relief-like grid structure. The smallest graphic unit of the design is a rhombus generated by the structural joints and constantly varied, resulting in a spatial drawing. The structure of Continuum systematically shrinks or expands resulting in a dynamic spatial effect.
The stations are connected via openings to the urban space, each maintaining its own identity while acting as a connection to the city above. The central guidelines for the design of the stations were spaciousness, generous sightlines between platform levels and concourse levels, clarity, easy orientation and allowing as much natural light as possible deep into the stations. During the second competition in 2002, artists Ralf Brög, Ursula Damm, Manuel Franke, Enne Haehnle and Thomas Stricker were selected. Together with the architects each developed a specific design for the access areas of a specific station. Additionally, Heike Klussmann undertook the design of Pempelforter Straße.
Kirchplatz Station: “Track X” / Enne Haehnle
For the station at Kirchplatz, Enne Haehnle wrote poetic texts and then gave them sculptural life. The lines of text leading passengers down into the subway begin at the three entrances, lead down into the station, intersect there and then accompany the passengers to the tracks. A fourth text scrolls across the central skylight. The lines of writing, forged from steel cables that were then covered with a bright color, can each only be read from certain perspectives owing to their 3D qualities. A game between abstraction and legibility thus unfolds, depending on the passengers’ location and angle of vision.
Graf Adolf Platz Station: “Achat” / Manuel Franke
Manuel Franke has used hundreds of panels of luminous green glass to create an immersive chromatic environment interrupted only by a powerful flow of lines that accompany the passenger from the street, through the concourse and down to the platform. Delicate linear subdivisions alternate with explosive bursts of color. These zestful colors were achieved by way of a specially developed analog process realized by an artistic intervention during manufacturing.
Benrather Strasse Station: “Heaven Above, Heaven Below” / Thomas Stricker
Through a conceptual inversion of the space surrounding the architecture, Thomas Stricker has brought the universe, with its planets and stars, its tranquility and weightlessness into the underground world of the subway station. In cooperation with netzwerkarchitekten, the interior design of a spaceship was developed for the station. A stainless steel embossed matrix covers the walls, interrupted by large panoramic windows in the form of multi-media displays. These screens show 3D video animations of the universe, giving passengers a window looking out onto outer space.
Heinrich Heine Allee Station: “Three Model Spaces” / Ralph Broeg
Ralf Brög designed the three new entrances to the Heinrich-Heine-Allee station as visual and acoustic venues for the performance of changing sound compositions – as an “Auditorium”, a “Theater” and a “Laboratory”. Each of the three model spaces boasts a high-quality sound system, enabling the most wide-ranging acoustic interventions possible; they can be used in coming years to present works by as broad an array as possible of composers and sound artists. For the opening, contributions by author and director Kevin Rittberger (Theater), composer Stefan Schneider (Laboratory) and musician Kurt Dahlke and artist Jörn Stoya (Auditorium) were to be heard.
The “Laboratory” focuses on the experimental use of tones. Sound sculptures hang in space while opposite the “Interference Atlas” visualizes optical phenomena. In the “Theater” a theater curtain can be discerned on the ceramic surface. Messages and other sound material is audible. Viewers find themselves asking where they stand: Are they a part of the play or are they the audience? The “Auditorium” is equipped with 48 loudspeakers that can be individually controlled. The 3D wall elements enable the spread of sound to be modulated, thereby optimizing the acoustic properties of the room. This equipment facilitates a unique compositional approach and an equally unique listening experience.
Schadowstraße Station: “Turnstile” / Ursula Damm
Ursula Damm has created an interactive installation involving multiple elements. At its center is a large LED screen displaying the real-time movements of passersby on the city surface – transformed through a computer program. The resulting images of small, virtual life forms are create through the constantly changing dynamic energy of the passersby. This concept recurs in the blue glass of the station’s walls. Geometrically interpreted aerial views of Dusseldorf are presented as whole or excerpts.
Pempelforter Strasse Station: “Surround” / Heike Klussmann
At the Pempelforter Strasse station Heike Klussmann works with the 3D effects of the space’s specific geometries. She measured the station and transposed the measurements onto a 3D model. She took the directions of movement from each entrance, extended them into the station and placed four white bands, each with the same measurements as the entrances, as an inverted sculpture over the floor, walls and ceiling. The directions of the edges of the space were recorded so that they could break and process the geometry of the room. The band structure has an independent existence after breaking with the geometry of the space and as an inverted sculpture cuts across the perimeters of the station’s spaces. The resulting three-dimensional effect of this game with the dimensions of surfaces and spaces is surprising. It seems that the actual boundaries of the subway station have dissolved.