Metro Stops

Metro Stops in Hanover, Germany by Despang Architekten, 2000

The following text is excerpted from Phyllis Richardson's Big Ideas, Small Buildings, published in 2001 by Thames & Hudson, for Despang Architekten's Metro Stops in Hanover, Germany.

"Urban space is not always treated very kindly," says Martin Despang, whose firm won a competition to design thirteen tram platforms and waiting facilities for the new D-South urban-rail line in Hanover. In a "holistic approach" to the functional, technical and economic parameters, Despang created a system of vertical rectangular blocks that could be covered in a range of materials, and to which could be added the structure's individual "attire". [The architect] conceived different claddings and finishings in response to each facility's immediate surroundings.

At the Haltestelle and Freundallee [image on previous page] stops, for example, where brick is the neighborhood's prevailing building material, the structures are given dry-pressed brick facings. Other "waiting blocks" feature prepatinated copper (with the ensuing oxidation reflecting the natural evolution of nearby allotments), satin-finished glass blocks, larch strips and stainless-steel mesh and even the now-ubiquitous precast concrete.

To combat the unkind treatment such facilities must endure, Despang was proactive and preventive: all built-in elements, such as information windows, are fitted flush; finishes were treated with lab-tested coatings to protect against weather and graffiti; and the construction makes use of smooth, non-adhesive surfaces to defy would-be vandals. To the waiting passenger, however, the shelter Despang describes as "urban punctuation" present bold exclamation points of pleasant surprise.