From The Memory Of Time To The Magic Of Space Subway Stations Of The World

Subways, Metropolises, And Notes From The Underground
The history of humanity adapted from nomadic lifestyles to settled lifestyles by making great strides in agriculture, production, and industry. Social order, rooted and stratified in centers, provides sociocultural progression into various comfort areas. The concept of the metropolis is described as a demographic area of obesity arising from the necessity of living together. While the Industrial Revolution was thought to be the main reason for the populational obesityof the cities, it also speeded up the process of modernization. Constructing comfortable cities above ground, then focusing on space studies with technological advances can be considered as modern time efforts. Trying to move “downwards” both for the safety of the planet and transportation could be a nice idea considering that the earth we walked on also has an underground.

While eliciting this idea, it is worth noting that the efforts to go underground, regardless of the need for transportation, are as old as human history. The first works concerning living underground occurred for shelter and protection purposes. From the individual settlements to the communal life, from local storages activities to gigantic underground cities, we see that there has always been an effort to move to the center of the world since the archaic periods of human history.

Today, we witness that underground stations, which are the arterial nodes of underground transportation, become public centers, evolve into crowded places in terms of human circulation, and transform their structures from cold and uncanny atmospheres into modern and fun centers. Let’s start our journey in which we compile subway stations from all corners of the world, some of which are rich in history and some of which are valuable in terms of being modern facilities.

Light, Shadow, And Color: Toledo Metro Station
The light illusions, the magic of art and integration with daily life. These are the best expressions to define Toledo Station, one of the subway art stations of the city of Naples. When the city administration decided to design the underground arteries surrounding the city on a certain integrity basis, the art became the main uniting element of this project.  The station which was designed around earth, light, water and sky symbols dazzles with spiritual implications in contrast with the monotony of the daily life of the subway users. Toledo (50 m.), One of the deepest subway stations in Europe, has been designed according to three depth levels by taking advantage of this depth. The wall remains of the Kingdom of Aragon, founded in Europe a thousand years ago, adorning the underground theme of the station. In the upper layer representing the Earth, the bright yellow colors of the Mediterranean sun prevail. Seascape form created with light illusions on glass ceramics and wave motifs on the walls creates the sea level thanks to the fascinating effects of blue tones.

References To The Russian History: Kievskaya Subway Station
One of the most popular subway arteries of the country, which is considered as one of the symbols of the city like Red Square or Kremlin Palace, reflects the design of the Russian city, which is one of the first pioneers that comes to mind when planning the city. The construction of the subway network of Kievskaya, which is always on the top of the list of the most aesthetic metro stations in the world, took place between 1914 and 1918. Vladimir Shukhov and Ivan Rerberg, architectural designers, managed to reflect the architectural aura of Russian palaces on the metro station. The composition is designed on the basis that stained glass, mosaics, marble and chandeliers, and bright floors emit light and thus getting rid of the dim and dim atmosphere of the underground space. Sculptures, murals, and reliefs create the impression of an art gallery or museum.

One can understand that Russian history is one of the important pioneers regarding art, philosophy, literature, science, and politics from the fact that each station of the Moscow Subway was named after an important figure in the Soviet Era. Chekhovskaya, Dostoevskaya, Mayakovskaya, Pushkinskaya, Leninskaya, just like Kievskaya offer a brief history of Russian art and politics to locals who have to use this node every day and to tourists who visit the city.

Designed to be a safe underground shelter against a possible nuclear attack during the Cold War years, an important period in the recent history of Soviet Russia, the station has now achieved a true art gallery ambiance, which is far away from militarist paranoia. The art deco form, which has infiltrated the fashion and decoration of modernism, Kievskaya Empire exhibits the harmony of traditional and modern thanks to its gothic and Russian folk patterns

Mysterious and Exotic: Pyongyang Subway System
Pyongyang Subway, which is one of the mysterious structures of North Korea, which is a closed form of governance, has a history of nearly fifty years. The construction activities of the subway have been given a start by the grandfather of their current leader Kim Jong-Un and because of the security paranoias (valid even today), it was built more than 110 mt deep underground.

The propaganda-art approach seen in many of the socialist administrations have implemented the most obvious practices in Pyongyang Subway. The traditional paintings and sculptures found in the station are interpreted as a typical reflection of the closed political atmosphere with their archaic forms, far from modernism, although the mosaic decorations create a relative ornament and harmony.. Designs with the spirit of the Soviet socialist realistic art movement look at the world through a monotonous window just like the North Koreans using the station. The luminous luminaires, which are rumored to weigh four tons, offer a relative movement as an attempt to reverse the station’s uniformity of design.

Reflections Of The Images On The Glass: Formosa Boulevard Station
Kaohsiung, Taiwanungs city has one of the most interesting designs of all subway stations in the World. Formosa Station is at the intersection of two subway arteries of the city, in a very lively location where human action does not pause for a moment. What distinguishes it from other subway stations is not its passenger traffic. What distinguishes it, is the huge ceiling called “Dome of Light” which is designed with stained glass in various sizes. Designed by Italian artist Narcissus Quagliata, the 4500 glass panels are jointed to cover an area of approximately 2180 square meters. While the idea of a sun-deprived architectural design underground having a stained glass is ironic on its own, putting symbolic meaning onto it made the designers work even more complicated. The ceiling symbolizes the life adventure of humankind throughout history. The metaphorical reflection of soil, water, light, and fire in stained glass, provides the subway station with light illusions.

Northern and Aesthetical: Stockholm Subway
Northern European countries are famous for their peace and quiet and urban structures which are far away from chaos and disorder. The people who live in a geography where the sun doesn’t shine except for a short period, have daily habits which make life easier by choosing the plain and minimal. Transportation for a Stockholmer means either using a bike or the subway. As such, it was inevitable for Stockholm which is both the capital and biggest city of Sweden, to have a rich subway network. Three separate subway lines (called blue, green and red) circulating the city through a total of 105 stations, making it possible to transport close to one and a half million passengers daily from one corner of the city to another. The high level of welfare has made it possible for local people to choose an actual art-prone life. It is possible to see the reflections of this situation easily by looking at the metro stations.

Since the 1950s, local artists, especially Vera Nilsson and Siri Derkert started the trend of decorating the subway stations with Works of art, saved the Stockholm subway from being a regular station and turned it into a modern art gallery. After the ‘70s this trend turned into a more systematic format that was even organized by art designers and curators thus made Stockholm, where city and art intertwine, one of the best of public space transformation in the World.

An Abandoned Design Wonder: City Hall Metro Station
New York is undoubtedly one of the metropoles where the linear correlation between the subway networks and urbanization is obvious. City Hall Subway Station is an unfortunate stop in terms of active users even though its construction dates back to centuries ago.  City Hall Station, which has a gusto design ahead of its time, has kept its beauty like a treasure buried under the ground for many years with its ceramic arches, brass fittings, and curved form. Just as the ill fate of the station was about to change thanks to the plans of the authorities to reunite it with people, the 9/11 chaos kept it from happening. The station, which attracted the attention of a group of New Yorker artists thanks to its distinctive atmosphere, which does look like Hollywood sets with its interesting arches and ceiling windows, was re-introduced with The Underbelly Project. PAC and Workhouse, New York-based graffiti artist have decorated the subway walls with hundreds of paintings and other Street artists are continuing with this crazy installation.

Gorgeous and Rich: Burjuman Subway Station
Burjuman, a subway station in Dubai, that has been attracting the attention of rich people in the western countries as a tourism destination in the last years, is  compatible with Dubai’s modern urban design, has a history of almost 10 years The station used by those who want to come to BurJuman Center, one of the largest shopping centers in Dubai, is as spectacular as the Dubai tourist centers. Burjuman, with its ambiance dominated by the color blue, with its gigantic chandeliers and designer objects for which no expense was spared, looks more like a multi-star hotel than a subway station and it dazzles people by being one of the places where the country’s overall ‘wealth’ is made visible. Although the circulation of passengers is planned with a focus on the shopping center, the location is very close to the Dubai Museum, so it is also for the visitors who didn’t come just for an expensive holiday but also for taking a look at the country’s history and culture. The subway station, where the concept of public space has turned into a tourism and economy-oriented connotation, is also an obvious reflection of the country’s overall economic vision.

Time Travel From Galata To Pera: Tünel Metro
Tünel Metro, which also gives its name to the square where it is located, has not only served a nostalgic function in any period of its service history but has always performed its transportation function except for war or technical problems.  The historical subway line, which is designed for the passengers who have reached Karaköy by sea and then wants to go to Beyoğlu (Pera) and which connects these two ancient Istanbul districts,  is known as one of the first examples of ‘integrated public transportation in terms of public transportation design and techniques. It is known as the second oldest public transportation system in the world after the subway transportation which was launched in London in 1863.

The project was designed by the French engineer Eugene Henri Gavand, who came to İstanbul for a touristic visit, with the idea of connecting Galata and Pera, the most important community place of the period, by rail.  The project submitted to Sultan Abdülaziz Han was immediately put into practice and (Gavand) was granted a 42-year concession with the condition that the Tünel subway system will become public domain after this period is over and the subway was opened for service in 1875. At the opening ceremony held on January 17th of the same year, in his speech the company manager Albert’s speech emphasized that the functional reflection of the task of combining Eastern and Western elements originating from Istanbul’s geographical fate will come to life with this metro line.

The subway which could not serve for some time due totechnical difficulties and lack of materials during the Second World War, was electrified in 1971.  Thus, the distance of 573 meters between Karaköy and Beyoğlu has been covered by electric power in one and a half minutes while it has become an important public vehicle carrying approximately 12 thousand passengers over two hundred rounds per day. In the same process, the renovation task given to a French company. It was completely renewed and adapted to the era while preserving its originality.

From The Speed Of Life To The Magic Of Space  Subway Stations
The history of modern urbanization has revised the definition of the public sphere many times during the process. We see that socio-cultural issues, which are among the main issues where economic and political developments immediately intervene with an organic change reflex, also modernize public spaces. Metro stations are also regarded as public spaces that bring together the aforementioned modern-day urbanists with an uncommon frequency. While the speed of daily life increases day by day, it is, of course, unthinkable that routine practices do not keep up with this. The “hasty daily life” habits of city-dwellers, which shows similarities regardless of where you live in the World, caused the public spaces and socializing areas to intertwine. Metro stations in an average metropolis must have triggered the feeling of belonging to hundreds of thousands of citizens a day and the relative ‘sense of trust of crowds. We discussed the history of the metro stations from various metropolises of the world, their public values, aesthetic designs, works of art, light, color, and decorations. While writing the waiting areas of these hasty means of transportation, it was appropriate to keep the two basic issues that were always in mind to the last. The relationship between the fast flow of time and the magic of space… Just like the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard did in Poetics of Space. The entity that wants to pass quickly and pursues the lost time in the past; it is obvious that he wants to stop the hasty time that curls like a river in front of him.  he space keeps time-compressed in the combs of our memory. Space is the memory repository of experiences.


The First Subway Work: Thames Tunnel
It was 1843 when the first tunnel of the world called Thames Tunnel was built under the river with the same name for pedestrians and freight transportation. This is also considered the beginning of the history of the subway, the most important type of transport architecture. The evolution from conventionality to modernity has been evident since 1860 in the context of the need for transportation in continental Europe. The Germans using the rock drills and the British, who started to open the subway networks with the help of dynamite, succeed in establishing underground transportation networks in Western metropolises.

Naples’ Underground Sun
The station which is one of the important figures of history of Naples, has been renovated by the Spanish architect Oskar  Tusquets Blanca and its renewed visuality wins recognition. The station is located near Via Toledo, one of the streets where the human circulation is high, and the visual aura of the station has affected the underground as well as above.

From Symbolism To Architecture
To show the goodwill and the friendship between the Russians and Ukrainians, symbolic values were attributed to the station which was designed round and is a part of the Moscow subway network. Kievskaya which resembles a museum or an art gallery is one of the important city memories of Moscow with its crystal lighting, aesthetic and colorful artistic objects

Pyongyang Metro Museum
The museum, which exhibits the works of the subway system, construction activities, tools and documents, even archived records and technical plans photographed throughout the works, is almost a building-memory feature. The North Korea administration which wants to encourage his people to work and produce wishes to remind them how such an important architecture has been developed with Pyongyang Subway Museum.

Dome Of Light
The designer who looked at humankind’s history from an anthropologic perspective emphasized the fundamental items that humans need to survive on earth with “Dome of Light” which is the most interesting place in the Taiwan subway network.

Kungsträdgården Subway Station
Kungsträdgården, meaning “King’s Garden, stands out with its architectural form that looks like a concrete underground cave. This design is the common aspect of the many stations that Stockholm Subway which is built after 1970s has which is built after the 1970s. It is a reminder of the Malakös Palace, which was built on the current position of the suburbs in the 17th century and later got destroyed in a fire.

A Story On Being Forgotten
The abandoned subway station of New York, City Hall, is now a stopover for street artists. New Yorkers, who were deprived of its visual elegance for many years, can discover the station which turned into an unofficial art gallery.

A “Tunnel” Between Ottoman and The Republic
For those arriving from Karaköy to Pera by Tünel Metro, this route is a journey through history. The tiles adorning the walls of the station make you feel like the hero of an old-time story. The Tünel Metro, a living history that has been closely witnessed by Istanbul lovers every day from the early years of the Ottoman and the Republic period to the present, continues to function as well as preserving its nostalgic appearance.

By: Necati Bulut
*This article was  published in the  November-December issue of Marmara Life. 

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