One of the unique characteristics of any metro is the way it brings strangers into contact with one another. It is a readymade space of cultural exchange. In much the same way as browsing the internet is a journey of accident and experimentation which can lead people to the discovery of things they may not have been looking for, so too a station is a space which produces new and surprising experiences.
The site of Noisy-Champs station, at the intersection of two metro lines – an existing metro line and a new line – and a bus depot will ensure that it becomes a multimodal transport node. But the site itself, as is typical of the periphery, is surrounded by an urban fabric that is sparse in density and comprised of blocks that are of a single-use nature. In order to amplify the cultural life of the metro and maximise the station’s connections to the surrounding community in its surrounding environment, our proposal is both to eliminate the above-ground enclosures and conceive of the station as a covered open space. This space will host both the station’s entrance and exit routes and will become a plaza which acts as a node of social and economic intensity for the area.
The brief for the station suggested a series of glass-enclosed spaces to evoke a sense of visual openness. We asked, "Why should the station be closed at all?" because we believe the station should be a dynamic, open system, bringing together not only multi-modal transportation types, but also diverse social elements from families and students to businessmen and retailers or shoppers and tourists. The station as plaza is itself a venue for social interaction and events like book fairs, markets, culinary events, trade shows, music performances, art installations, etc. It is not a private space - locked up, static and sterilized of personality - it is multifarious, diverse, changeable, adaptable, surprising, unpredictable and active. The station is place in-the-making, curated and cultural, stimulating and energetic.
Not simply a bridge between two towns, the Noisy-Champs station is to be a new public space, a plaza which is both a destination and a place of embarking. It knits together the disparate elements of the local context – a park, a station, a campus, a business cluster – by providing a common ground which links them all. Sheltered under a large roof, the station provides cover from the elements, convenience retail, and connections to the tram and rail platforms below. The piazza is populated with trees, benches, waiting areas, and shops. A shimmering surface overhead captures and re-presents, through lively reflections, the life of the active public landscape.
Two sky-lit domes provide access to escalators and lifts, connecting the piazza to the platforms below with light-filled voids through which stairs, escalators and lifts carry people up and down. The simplicity of the open piazza and clearly identifiable entrances to the railways provides an efficiently legible way-finding strategy as well as visual openness. When the ticketing hall closes, the piazza remains accessible.
The station will become a more than a place which distributes people towards their destinations, it will become a key node for the creation and transportation of culture and ideas, a great conveyor of thought and social interchange.