Stazione AV Mediopadana in Reggio Emilia
Only once have I even made a detour specifically to see a railway station, and that railway station was the Stazione AV Mediopadana in Reggio Emilia.
I have been fascinated by Stazione AV Mediopadana in Reggio Emilia ever since I first caught a glimpse of the structure from the E35 motorway between Milan and Bologna. The railway station looks like a giant Le Klint lamp shade with folded pleats undulating over the flat Padana plain, and along with three bridges and a highway toll station it constitutes a newish gateway to Reggio Emilia.
Squeezed in between world known cities like Parma, Mantova, Modena and Bologna, I suspect Reggio Emilia may have suffered from an inferiority complex. In 2002, the city council contacted the Spanish architect Salvatore Calatrava and asked him to create a comprehensive master plan of infrastructure projects that could facilitate access to the city. Calatrava is one of the most acclaimed architects of the late 20th century, and he has designed a number of sculptural buildings throughout the world. In Italy, he is mostly known for the controversial fourth bridge over the Grand Canal in Venice and the Vela di Calatrava sports city in Rome.
Still, I find the gateway to Reggio Emilia more impressive. Stazione AV Mediopadana is a rhythmic, repetitive and dynamic structure like an origami object or an undulating futuristic wave of steel and concrete. The building consists of 25 modules measuring up to 20 m. Along each side of the building thirteen different steel portals succeed each other with one metre intervals, and the small displacements and variations create a sense of movement.
The weirdest thing about Stazione AV Mediopadana, however, was not the architecture, but the fact that this symbol of soaring ambition remained abandoned for the hour, we weaved in and out of portals and waited to see a high speed TGV train pass through. There were no guards, shops, bars or manned ticket offices to be seen, even though the station was inaugurated in 2013 and the car park was full. Apparently, passengers only hang around the station for as long as it takes them to embark or disembark.
The absence of other people gave Stazione AV Mediopadana a phantasmagorical aspect, and if I did not have the photographs to prove it, I still would not be convinced about the reality of the place. Perhaps it’s all just an optical illusion.
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hi, I’m from Reggio Emilia and I’m an architect. I’ve been almost shocked by your article because of the total crap you wrote.
Reggio Emilia did not suffered by an inferiority complex throughout the centuries, mostly because if you don’t know (and maybe you should) it’s the city where the tricolore flag was invented, so we don’t think of ourselves as less important than parma or Modena. to know similar things, you should travel and discover more beside a city’s station.
also, I don’t know about your birthplace or the date you visited the station, but I travel by train every week and the station is always full of commuters; and usually people don’t hang out a lot in stations beside the need of traveling, because it’s a transitory place. so I’m really sorry if you didn’t find a lot of fun or attractions at the station, although the same station is the main attraction. and please, don’t call it an optical illusion or “phantasmagoric” because it’s as real as your lack of consciousness.
thank you for you attention,
There was absolutely no offence intended. This blog describes my personal experiences and perception of various places. I think the station and the bridges in Reggio Emilia are massively impressive and very beautiful, and I am not aware of other Italian cities that have invested as much in modern monumental architecture. That led me to ‘suspect an inferiority complex’, although I know – as well as anyone who has ever visited Reggio – that the city centre is just as charming, as any of its neighbours. That, however, was not what this post was about. I wanted to attract attention to Stazione AV Mediopadana in its own right, and I saw it on a nice and quiet Sunday morning as a fascinating ‘exhibition of optical effects and illusions’, which is the dictionary definition of ‘phantasmagoria’. In other words, I utterly enjoyed my visit, and I hope that my post will inspire readers with a similar interest in modern architecture.