In the Metropolis of the Future, the strengthening of public transport and broadening of its possibilities encourages an exchange among people, ideas, and visions. Research shows that the existence of permanent lines of public transport, namely those of a metro, play an essential role in spurring on harmonious economic development throughout a city’s diverse neighborhoods, a process that spreads outwards towards newer suburbs. This project for the Saint Germain metro station in Rennes attempts to render concrete and visible this new conception of the metro’s urban significance by concentrating on intelligibility and on the quality of the station’s space. The architects wanted, from the first, to return to the fundamentals of what a metro station should be, identifying for ourselves the necessary qualities of a station dedicated to this means of transport: intelligibility, functionality, durability, accessibility, security. The complexity of a work, whether architectural or technical, creates within the user a certain difficulty in comprehending, grasping, or analyzing his or her encounter with it. Architecture has changed little over time and it remains essential for the architect to introduce into complex projects ideas that are universal, simple, and clear.
This project for the station is defined by the following three clear ideas:
– the articulation of the central space’s full height, delimited by a mesh ceiling of fibrous concrete, a principal component in visually linking the station’s platforms with the ticket desk.
– the placement of public circulation pathways, stairways/escalators designed as beamed structures with a height of around 2.5m, that at a stroke traverse the central atrium.
– the implementation of a peripheral structure, with a thickness of around 2.5m between the atrium and the civil engineering’s deep box, reinforcing the latter with a view to limiting or even eliminating completely the need for braces, as well as serving as a space for technical galleries.
Spatial intelligibility will be obtained by the presence of natural light in the station. The chosen apparatus for allowing natural light to pass through without encumbering the space’s volumes will be in the form of glass blocks sealed in prefabricated concrete. Their positioning will be decided upon in agreement with the future development of the space. The pivot of this conceptual organization around a large central space, a truly vertical space, offers users a comprehensive vision for orienting themselves within the station and visualizing their paths to the platforms.
Reinforced by an architecture with a triangular structural motif, along the inner wall standard escalators are placed, 30° in view and complete with multiple functions. In our project, the treatment of the circulation pathways takes on a prominent position: no blind alleys or “dead ends”, no endless and poorly lit corridors. The pathways will be brightly lit, opening out upon a variety of interior views, allowing a clear path from one level to the next, without impeding on the requirements of workflow management and security. The two flows of passengers, those coming up to the surface and those descending into the station, are clearly separated by two superimposed mezzanines, the only meeting points of the two being at the ticket desk and at the platforms.
Notably, only the escalators are to be found in the atrium, while the less employed staircases are placed behind the mesh: thereby highlighting an essential aspect of the clarity of the operation. Around the atrium a thick band is set in place, reinforcing the inner wall, while housing the networks of wiring, ducts, etc. This band is separated from the atrium by an interior facade of fibrous concrete, into which windows will be set that look down from various points of view on the heart of the station.Location: Rennes, France Architects: Atelier Zündel & Cristea
Completion expected: 2015
Associate architects: Architram
Program: Rennes metro station