New High-Speed Bologna Central Station - Bologna

The subtle strength of large surfaces

Ceramic takes centre stage in the monumental underground facility, designed by Arata Isozaki and Andrea Maffei, for the high-speed train connection in Bologna Central station
Andrea Maffei - Arata Isozaki
Year of completion

The new Bologna high-speed train station was a truly complex project. Quite apart from its functional brief, the infrastructure intervention had to address architectural issues, the relationship with the historic and modern city, and the more intimate relationship with the design of the old station, integrating functions and activities to transform a place of transit into an urban facility which is itself an attraction and service centre.
One of the main hubs of the national railway network linking northern and southern Italy with 700 trains a day and 60 million passengers a year, Bologna Central station is the fifth largest in Italy by size and volume of traffic.
It was in this context that RFI (Rete Ferroviaria Italiana) launched the project to redevelop the station’s entire infrastructure through an international design competition, concluded in 2008 when the project was awarded to the practice headed up by Arata Isozaki and Andrea Maffei (Stefano Tozzi / M+T & Partners — Strutture Arup Italia).
The new underground high-speed train station is located on the opposite side of the tracks from the historic station building on Piazza delle Medaglie d’Oro, built in 1876 to architect Gaetano Ratti’s design. The construction of the new facility required that five surface tracks be eliminated from the station. In their place, an underground excavation which is around 640 metres long, 56 metres wide and 23 metres deep houses the new station. The new structure is distributed over three floors, connected by escalators. The lowest level is dedicated to the platforms and the four tracks for the high-speed trains themselves. The middle level floor houses the railway services (self-service ticketing, information, toilets) and passenger services (bar, newsstand, waiting areas, etc.). The top level connects the new station to the underground road which crosses the station to link with the surface tracks, the Piazza delle Medaglie d’Oro entrance, the Bolognina entrance and the parking areas.
The construction of a project of this size, combined with the very high traffic frequency and stresses, demanded that special attention be paid to the specification of the materials and finishings. The decision to use Cotto d’Este Kerlite 3Plus porcelain tile panels to cover the full height vertical surfaces running from the high-speed tracks to the top level of the new station was particularly important in this challenging context. The use of vertical ceramic panels measuring 3 x 1 m (thickness 3.5 mm), in the Over collection’s Office Light Grey colour, makes a strong architectonic statement, with their sober and yet evocative stone surfaces, and also optimises the luminosity of the space, whether lit by artificial LED lighting or directly by the midday sun. They also minimise the impact of the dust generated by the passing trains, and are especially easy for the automated washing systems to keep clean, thus ensuring that the design maintains its original quality over the long term.

Cotto d'Este, Kerlite Over
porcelain stoneware
100x300 cm - spessore/thickness 3.5 mm
Technical characteristics
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): <_ 0,1%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): ULA-UHA
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): compliant
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): Conforme
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R 9
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant
Crazing resistance (ISO 10545-11): compliant
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): compliant
Certifications and awards
ISO 14001
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