Reimagining the Railway Scenery
Sotiria Paschali & Vasiliki Rapanta
Trikala is a city in northwestern Thessaly, central Greece. One of its main transportation links to mainland Greece is its railway network, signified by a 1886 listed building functioning as the city’s passenger terminal and a complex of 4 warehouses originally used for merchandise storage. The warehouses stand aligned with the railway and were unoccupied until recently.
Restoring the connection of the railway and its surroundings with the city and its people and achieving a collective regaining of space were our designing initiatives in this project.
If you think of a train and its passengers, you will see how a wagon can transform into a scene of concentrated unexpected events and spontaneous behaviours, a farrago of feelings and interactions. Using that as an inspirational flare, we intended for the area to act as a backstage that would provoke the development of random, unexpected events and interactions between people — be it a train passenger, a city resident or visitor — a behavioural scenery. A sense of hyper-reality was thus an intention too, such as that achieved with the technique of montage, in which adding new elements to a complex with a specific previous use, one can change its meaning.
Dominant in the area of interest is the integral linear element of the railway and warehouses, operating as a limit between the city and the subsequent natural landscape — forming a spatial discontinuity — and the consequent need to achieve the breakdown of this figure, the union of the two opposed sides and diffusion of functions.
As far as it concerns the warehouses, we integrate various functions, based on the needs of the city but also in accordance with the intention for flexibility and engagement with different behaviours and situations — flea-food market, bakery and dairy laboratories, restaurant, library and co-working space, showrooms. Different uses are arranged within the same shell, as in another type of wagon. In plan view, movements and activities alternations grow on “rows”, areas with continuous linear character. The flow is dominated by a swap rhythm between stops and movement, while the treatment of the facades is different on each side. Of the four warehouses varies the second building, where interventions are more intense as the building unites with our second primary architectural intervention, the footbridge.
In order to break the limit posed between the railway and the public space, we place the element of the footbridge. The character of the bridge evolves as the transition takes place from one side to the other, resulting in its deconstruction and formation of a sort of “square”. There, structures which encapsulate different types of activities, dominate the space along with an auditorium and a stage for events, while multiple levels inspire a more playful and freer occupation of space. Deliberately we do not place strict limits in this area as we want to imply the possibility of further expansion and development.
The direction of the design was to create an unconventional background, a spatial dimension that is more of a movement, a passage towards the alter, rather than a conclusive and unchangeable situation.
Who influences you graphically?
We draw our inspiration from all artistic realms, whether this is architecture, photography, graphic arts or painting, either precedential or contemporary. Our picks would include photographers like Matt Henry and William Eggleston, artists David Hockney, Johannes Vermeer, Edward Hopper and architects Ricardo Bofill and Luis Barragán. Each one of them inspires us in different ways and extents. We also find the playful collages and daring gestures of pop architecture and 60s-70s groups like Archigram very inspiring.
You talk about designing for movement, how is this represented within the images?
Movement, it’s limitations and directions, is a critical point in our concept and designing development. Representing movement in a drawing can be very tricky, especially in our case where the rendering of the scenes is intentionally given a flat, chromatically harmonised feeling. However, the views of the scenes (one point perspective) highlight the presence of main axes of movement, of what we call in our concept “movement zones”. In every exterior scene you find yourself looking into either the far end or the extents of a strong linear axis which matches the direction of movement in reality. This feeling is strengthen by small graphic footprints of movement like a moving train, a bicycle etc.
What was the role of the model? How did it help in exploring the project further?
During the designing process we worked with models in order to establish and elaborate on our designing principles. The breaking of limits, the movement zones and the final scattering of elements formed through the models.
The role of the final models was different in a way. The models themselves became parts of the representation as a whole. The materials where carefully chosen as part of the graphic exploration. The manipulation of colour in different parts was a three dimensional extension of the graphic representation on paper. The model of the master plan, with the wide use of laser engraving and only a few 3D forms added, gained the effects of a drawing.
What was your work process in terms of concept development and production of images?
The concept developed mainly based on two main ideas-intentions: the breaking of the linear limit and the desire of creating a scenery out of the ordinary. Practically the latter was further developed through a series of models and diagrams always along with the inevitable inspirational research. Together with the models we started building a digital 3D model. That was our basis for all the pictures produced for this project. The raw base for the axonometric drawings was exported from the 3D model, then processed further in a 2d software, were all line details were added, and then given their final graphic touch in Illustrator. The perspective scenes were also produced with a 3D software base and then with the extensive use of photoshop. The people used to animate the scenes where individually picked and processed from a 2D line basis.