Capodichino like the Pozzo di San Patrizio, Naples’ underground adds more magic

Work continues on the station that will link downtown Naples with the airport

From above it looks like the Pozzo di San Patrizio, the circular well shaft with a descending staircase and internal windows built in Orvieto, Italy between 1527 and 1537 and now the destination for 100,000s of tourists. The architects of Rogers Stirk Harbour, based in London, were inspired by the ancient well when they designed Naples’ Capodichino metro station, expected to be the terminus of the city’s underground line 1.

It’s a cylinder that reaches 50 meters under ground, with a 38 meter diameter, holding four twisting stairways that lead up to the surface like helixes, just like the incredible work that Pope Clement VII build in Orvieto to guarantee the water supply in case Rome was again besieged.

But the shape of the Capodichino station is just one of the characteristics of this work, the value of which rests in its capacity to close Naples’ metropolitan transport project, that is, giving the city an underground line that links the center to the airport.  The project was awarded to Webuild, which on the Line 1 has already built six other stations, from Colli Aminei to Museo, from Mater Dei to Toledo, some of the sites that allows us today to call the Naples’ underground a true work of art.

At the bottom of the San Patrizio well

From the bottom it gives the impression of being in the center of a yellow helix that runs towards the sky.  The stairs are mounted and work progresses at 50 meters below ground to ensure Line 1 arrives to its last station, Capodichino.

The Webuild technicians are busy completing the structures, installations and finishing touches, including the three service wells for the TBMs that will dig the underground’s tunnel. The station itself consists of an Omega-shaped structure covered by a hangar made of steel, glass and concrete, 50 meters by 48, at 10 meters above street level.

During the dig a lot of attention was payed to sustainability issues. In fact, 200,000 tons of dirt, the equivalent of the Menkaure pyramid, were transported and reused elsewhere.

“Capodichino is certainly a strategic station,” said the worksite’s project manager Carlo Di Costanzo.  “Not just because it connects downtown with the airport, but also because it represents the end of a line that joins the key connection points of Naples mobility, such as piazza Garibaldi, piazza Municipio, and the port.”

Capodichino station, a journey through art and culture

Taking the Naples’ subway means a journey not just through space but through time as well. We start in the imperial age of 300 BC, then through the Byzantine period of the 7th century, the Aragonese of the 15th century and suddenly we leap back 5,000 years in the middle of plowed fields in the fourth millennium BC. A journey punctuated by the findings of archeological artifacts that have been at the center of a complex and capillary recovery operation before being given to the city and, in part, exhibited at the stations where they were found. Experts went through 4,000 cubic meters of archeological dig at the Museo station; 14,300 cubic meters at the Università station; 7,500 cubic meters at the Toledo station. These digs allowed the city to exhibited part of the artifacts in the stations themselves, as is the case for the Neapolis stop, where objects found between Museo and Cavour are on show.

The archeological value of this infrastructure is enriched by the beauty of the stations, designed by world-famous architects and built with the goal of turning Naples’ subway into a work of art. It’s the case of the Toledo stop, named the most beautiful subway station in the world by The Daily Telegraph and CNN. An opinion confirmed by the many awards obtained: In 2013 it won the Emirates lead international award as “Public building of the year” and in 2015 the “oscar” of underground works assigned by the International Tunneling Association. Accolades that put Naples’ underground on the podium among the most beautiful and fascinating in the world.