The architects RÜBSAMEN+PARTNER ARCHITEKTEN BDA INGENIEURE attached utmost importance to the generous dimensions of Lohring Underground Station in their design. The station can only be entered from one side and displays a spatial continuum that they not only retain, but also emphasise in their concept, and in so doing they create an interpretable space that depicts and communicates the associations linked with underground rail transit.
The 95-metre-long hall of Lohring Underground Station can be seen in full while descending the stairs. Moreover, the user can perceive a slight bend to the right in the front section of the enormous tube. If he walks along the platform between the two tracks, he will also notice that the floor gently rises and that in the last third of the hall, the ceiling expands upwards. His gaze is captured by a gigantic red wall at the end of the platform.
The uniform cladding of the train hall with aluminium sheeting adheres to no rhythm and is interrupted at no point. It is intended to emphasize the flowing oval form of the station tube and to make it possible for the human eye to pass along it with equal fluidity. Thus, the tube itself becomes motion in the eye of the beholder. This impression is reinforced by the novel physical property of the green-grey coloured sheeting: its colour changes according to the angle of observation and angle of incidence of the light.
As a result of the reciprocity between the person and architecture, of the user’s action within the architectural space, the dynamics and speed of underground rail transit become perceptible.
With two light lines made of fluorescent tubes on the ceiling of the hall, the artist Eva-Maria Joeressen carries on the architects’ intention. The asymmetrical swerve contrasts with the uniformity of the two tracks, accelerating the sense of dynamism. At the same time, the artist creates measurement units for time and space, referring with the interruptions of lighting caused by the use of standard fluorescent tubes to the rhythm of the movements resulting from the arrival, stopping and departure of the trains.
To achieve the shimmering colour effects of the vault shell, the concrete shell of the station hall was clad with smooth one-coloured aluminium sheeting homogeneously following the curvature. The metal sheets were micro-perforated to absorb sound, and anodized using the novel colouring process Spectrocolor, up to now primarily used in automobile construction. The process makes use of the physical principle of interference that takes effect due to the superimposition of light waves, perceived by the human eye as a play of colours.
All furnishings and fittings are designed as members of one design family. The support members of the furniture set consist of welded steel sections. Between the support members or docked on them are the functional features of the furniture series: a plate, dynamic passenger information, a bench, an information case, an emergency alarm switch, a ticketcancelling machine, a lift call button, etc.
The theme of underground space is treated at Lohring with the help of light and darkness. Lighting is often purely functional and intense in underground rail stations, which themselves are just as functionally equipped, thus generally creating a monotonous environment without systems of reference, interchangeable transit spaces under the earth’s surface with uniform installation of light sources to counteract the anxiety of isolation.
In Lohring Station, light becomes an immaterial building material that plays with the passengers’ perception. The entire platform between the two tracks is covered with square glass plates (made of compound safety glass) and illuminated completely from below by means of a complex reflector system. The light source beneath the glass is not visible, but discernible in the greater light intensity towards the edges of the platform. Inasmuch as the light is covered and thus has to penetrate horizontally into the depth of the floor construction, it comes out through the roughened glass covering as an indirect radiance. This produces a restful, soft light so that the reflected colour values in the darker areas of the vault appear with particular clarity and vividness. The illuminated platform represents a central rest pole contrasting with the movement in time and space. The meditative manifestation of the light brings the passenger to pause and reflect in the automatic run of our frenetic everyday doings.
This is also made perceptible in the oversized luminous cross designed by Joeressen in the red delimiting wall at the end of the platform. This is where everything comes together. Like the traditional signpost, it identifies the location and provides orientation. The walland the luminous cross give the platform an endpoint and give the eye a support. At the same time, the luminous cross looks like the focus of the entire interior perspective inasmuch as the two upper arms of the cross assume a formal connection to the light lines on the tunnel ceiling. Last but not least, the luminous cross determines the location of the underground station inasmuch as it maps the crossing of the streets above ground, Lohring-Steinring and Witten Street.
Goethe called architecture »stone music«. Music moves on a linear path through time and is structured like architecture. It is a natural thing to do to complete the spatial experience of Lohring Underground Station with an acoustic complement.
The composer Klaus Kessner regards music as an integral component of the structure, creating a real-time sound environment based on the acoustic events in the underground station. The sound changes, moves and transforms the hall into a stage in which, as the American composer John Cage would have it, musical, pictorial, architectural and theatrical elements act in unison. The passengers and the underground trains are the actors.
With Lohring Underground Station the city of Bochum has ventured to undertake the experiment of integrating highquality, individual structures into the regional rail transit system. With their committed, holistic concept, the architects RÜBSAMEN+PARTNER ARCHITEKTEN BDA INGENIEURE have given the city and its inhabitants, attached by tradition to a mining that is now in economic decline, a very modern contribution that both promotes a sense of identity and provides encouragement. Text: Dr.Andrea Mesecke