Galmidi Yitzhar and the industrial designer Yaksein Eliran won first place in a design competition for a new underground train station in one of Israel’s most vibrant cities – Tel Aviv. Borrowing inspiration from some of the city’s most iconic features, such as its ubiquitous collection of Bauhaus architecture and the Ficus Microcarpa trees planted throughout in order to provide shade and shelter, the pair have designed a subterranean space that swims in natural light.
Combining the color of Bauhaus homes (white!) and the ambience it creates on the street with the fluid, arboreal form of the Ficus Microcarpa, Yitzhar and Eliran’s winning train station design is far more aesthetically pleasing than any existing station. Steel trunks are rooted to the floor while branches bend up under a transparent glass shield that permits natural light. Several of these line the station, which is enclosed by Bauhaus-styled edges.
Above-ground, a curved roof that looks like a giant leaf extending from the underground branches looms above the staircase leading into the station, providing shade, which is especially desirable during hot, muggy summers.
Everything is painted in white not only as a reminder of the “White City’s” status as a UNESCO heritage site, but also to mitigate excess solar gain and reverse the unfortunate trend of dark and dank public transportation terminals. Sculptural benches add to the comfort level.
Yitzhar and Eliran have taken a giant leap away from purely functional transportation terminals, which could make train travel infinitely more enjoyable. This in turn could result in more ridership, which would reduce road traffic and carbon emissions. Which goes to show just how far-reaching small design interventions can be.
And in case it isn’t evident, pumping natural light into the station will reduce energy loads. Given Egypt’s cessation of natural gas supply, the still early phases of Israel’s own natural gas exploitation, and the ever-so-slow uptake of solar energy developments despite so much untapped potential, energy shortages are likely to be a fixture of Israeli for decades to come.
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