A High-Speed Station for the Ticino Canton (Switzerland)

The European Union is not only generating a space of free commerce and progressive political integration, but also new infrastructures, which help to give continuity to the Union\’s physical space and facilitate the mobility of people and the frequency of trade exchanges. High-speed railway lines are an important part of this phenomenon. Spain, Portugal, France, and Germany are widening their networks, and interconnecting them with each other at great investment costs.Switzerland\’s position in this panorama is quite unique. Switzerland, although a kind of political island inside the European Union, can not stand apart from this new physical system. Since its geography coincides to a great extent with The Alps – the traditional barrier between the North and South of Europe – there is a real necessity to integrate Swiss infrastructures with the overall system of European communications.The Alp Transit Project consists of a high-speed railway line connecting the North of Italy with Germany, passing through Switzerland. The crossing under the Gottard is one of the most important Alpine lines due to its central position. The strict conditions of a railway line of this kind make the crossing of The Alps a real engineering challenge, where what will be one of the longest tunnels of the world – more than 50 kilometres long – is already being constructed. In a brief non-subterranean stretch, crossing a valley, the execution of a station serving the entire Ticino canton (the Italian-speaking Swiss canton) is foreseen somewhere among Bellinzona, Locarno, and Lugano. This will be an interchange station – cars, current railway lines, and high-speed trains – which will become an important hub of activity.Studio Structure:The semester\’s work is to be divided into urban and architectural design components. Given the complexity of the issues, initially groups of three will prepare a joint urban design proposal within which (for the remaining period) individual buildings will then be separately developed in depth by each student. There will be one mid-term review on March 19, 2002, for the urban design proposal and the first sketches for each student\’s building of choice.Pedagogic Objectives:The intention is for students to become familiar with the different scales of a project, from the territorial scale to the building itself, and to show how architecture can provide solutions which integrate very complex problems arising from a range of different fields. Completion Requirements:The semester\’s work is to be documented by conceptual studies, site and building models, as well as a number of three-dimensional drawings. The required time commitment will be the same as for a normal option studio. It would be very convenient to visit the site itself, so a trip is being arranged.