On November 13th, 2019, a new train station was inaugurated in the city of Matera, Italy. The project, a new building and future park designed by Stefano Boeri Architetti, represents an important link between the city’s old town, post-war and modern districts and a key point of access to the city of Matera in the year that it’s set to become the European Capital of Culture.
Matera, the city of Sassi, has hosted an important urban transformation process for the past 50 years. Time in which it has gone from being an unhygienic city with few possibilities of economic development, to be recognized internationally as cultural heritage, restoring its local architectural value and hosting new services. The new station has been designed with an eye to strengthening rail transport in Matera in the near future, given that the city is destined to become a unique art and history hub this coming year, preparing to welcome an ever greater number of commuters, visitors and tourists. In this new era for Matera, the station intends to serve as a central point for social gathering and -what Boeri defines as a less obvious contribution- a claim of a forgotten period in Matera’s architectural history through contemporary design.
Designing an Urban Landmark
"Designing a new railway station has allowed us to anticipate which areas of the city this new station will provide access to, both in terms of location and architecture,” comments Stefano Boeri. “We’ve created a structure that we hope will become a sort of junction, as well as a place to take a break or interact with others. The new public space consists of two empty areas: one that runs alongside the railway tracks (six meters below ground), and a piazza (at ground level), which is sheltered and demarcated by a large roof.”
A large rectangular 440m2 opening has been carved into the piazza to directly link the raised public square to the space running alongside the actual platforms. The opening floods the underpass with natural light and air, which also been entirely redeveloped and transformed into an identifiable, comprehensible and therefore, usable space. A fantastic new roof has been added to the station (measuring 45 x 35 meters and standing 12 meters above the piazza and 18 meters above the underpass) and fits decisively into Matera skyline’s, becoming a landmark that unmistakably pinpoints the station as a new point of access to the city. The large roof stands 12 meters above the piazza and is supported by twelve steel columns that emerge from an ‘iron floor’. It stretches beyond the length of the underpass towards ground level, providing a large covered space for travelers and local residents that can be used at all hours of the day and night, whatever the weather.
Meanwhile, the surrounding outdoor area has been transformed into a covered piazza to be enjoyed by travelers, local residents and tourists, who will now have access to a space to meet people, wait, travel and go for a stroll, thereby injecting new life into an important area of the city that was used as a car park until very recently, despite being surrounded by several architecturally striking public buildings. "This public space will introduce members of the public to a number of new areas that welcome and reflect the light in different ways,” explains project architect Boeri. “A tribute to the formidable perceptive experience of walking through the Sassi district and the continuous metamorphosis of stones into caves, staircases, terraces and overhangs that change in light and depth according to the location of the sun and moon."
Steel, Stone and Solar Panels
The project was completed using two primary materials that embody Matera’s two souls: Apricena stone – that recalls the local of the ancient city of the Sassi – and steel, which is evocative of the city’s more contemporary, dynamic side. The waiting area and station building are clad in stone, while the emergency platform and overhead roof are covered in aluminum.
Regarding energy consumption, Boeri began to develop the concepts that today base his projects more than 10 years ago, together with the sociologist and economist Jeremy Rifkin. Together they wrote a manifesto for the Venice Architecture Biennale to convince architects, urban planners and politicians to transform every building into an energy producer and collector. A decade later, these ideas are confirmed in the design of the Matera Centrale train station.
The roof has been fitted with solar panels that guarantee maximum energy self-sufficiency and offer the potential to supply in the future the entire piazza and park with power. The system, realized over an area of 1250m2, is composed of 696 solar panels that annually produce 271.440 kWh. According to the project leader Madalena Maraffi, the use of solar panels wasn’t particularly challenging. The team chose a particular design of completely horizontal panels to achieve a clean design, visible from surrounding buildings.
“The beauty of this architectural project shows that is important and possible to combine the existing and the recovered with new high-quality constructions. Thanks to FAL that has chosen an expert of such importance and consideration as Stefano Boeri" - comments the Undersecretary of the Minister of Infrastructures and Transportations, Salvatore Margiotta
"This is a flagship project for us. We entrusted the design to Boeri because we didn't just want to build a station, we wanted to create a large structure that was accessible, modern and extremely green, and one that would ultimately leave a cultural mark on the city that would stand the test of time. A symbol of the South that actually functions,” declares Matteo Colamussi, General Manager of Appulo Lucane Railways.
Project Team: Arch. Stefano Boeri Arch. Marco Giorgio, Arch. Maddalena Maraffi, Arch. Bogdan Peric, Arch. Elisabetta Zuccala, Arch. Stefano Floris, Arch. Esteban Marquez, Arch. Daniele Barillari, Arch. Agostino BucciPROGETTO STRUTTURE,
Plants and Landscape: Project (Structural Project), ESA Engineering (Plants), GAD (Cost Analysis), Studio Laura Gatti (Landscape)
Consultants: Studio Lapacciana (Fire safety), Arch. Angelo Francione (administration and sicurity), Apogeo (Geological and topographic surveys), Engineer Ciammarusti (Structural design assistance)