In the station of San Giovanni on the C line of the Rome Metro, a project has been completed that has already been successfully conducted in other cities, such as Naples, and which includes in the structure’s design the finds that were uncovered when excavating the site. At San Giovanni all the various elements in the construction process worked together: the client, the builder, the designer and the suppliers, all with the help of the Heritage Department and the University. This integrated approach to managing a project was so successful that it was even awarded an Inarch prize in the RomArchitettura 6 category that focuses on contemporary architecture in the Lazio region.
San Giovanni is Rome’s first “museum station”. It begins with today’s world in the large hall and then delves into the past in almost 30 metres of stratigraphy that trace the history of the site all the way back to when it was a prehistoric swamp. Metro travellers can also view a series of finds that were uncovered during excavations.
A team of architects from La Sapienza University, headed by Andrea Grimaldi and Filippo Lambertucci, has covered all the walls in the station with glass panels on which various stories are narrated. These feature a series of different colour codes that compare the history of the site with the changing fortunes of “The Eternal City”. Great care has also been taken over the lighting that has to meet safety criteria and standard subway specifications as well as providing the quality an exhibition space requires.
At ground level, in the large hall, a number of modern ceramics dating from the sixteenth century onwards are displayed. These artefacts once belonged to the San Giovanni Hospital but were subsequently thrown away in the hospital dump. In this area a spectacular ring of light has been created with Underscore InOut luminaires fitted with a special low smoke emission screen to meet the technical requirements for this kind of environment. The spectacular design of this light circle helps to give this space, which both welcomes and orientates travellers, a distinctive character by creating general lighting integrated with Reflex recessed luminaires.
As you move down through the structure, the first level you come to is the ‘correspondence floor’ where in the first century AD there was a farm. The exhibits here include a series of drainage amphorae and piping as well as a large basin that was originally used to store and redistribute water. These large exhibits are displayed in spacious showcases lit by high colour rendering Underscore light lines installed along black parallelepiped bases on which the amphorae are positioned. Recessed Laser luminaires provide further lighting from above. Smaller exhibits, like rings, coins and gems are displayed in specially designed showcases built into the walls. These smaller showcases are also lit with recessed Laser luminaires, whose light emission in certain cases is integrated by Underscore Ledstrips cut to the size of the showcases. The bottom floor, where the trains pass, is at a depth of 30 metres. Here the walls are decorated with vegetation typical of the swamps that were here in the Pleistocene period. For the platforms in this area, iGuzzini has produced special recessed fluorescent lamps with low smoke emission levels and dimensions that tally exactly with the sizes of the wall cladding panels. In addition to the illumination that highlights the unearthed exhibits and enhances the exhibition project, functional lighting has also been installed, of course. For both the escalators and platform areas, this s created by iN60 pendant luminaires. The handrail on the stairs next to the escalators is highlighted with an Underscore light line that lightens the impact of the feature in the same way that light is used as a graphic element in the explanatory panels, particularly those that narrate the story of the site’s stratigraphy.
The result is a station that demonstrates how past and present can live together by helping to create a sense of continuity and belonging to the history of a community.
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