Allowing passengers to make a rapid transition from one train to another is the main function of an underground station. However, some cities have succeeded in combining their functionality with something of beauty, by showcasing their country’s history or culture, thus converting them authentic art galleries or exhibition spaces.
As a result, underground stations featuring an unrivalled artistic and architectural wealth have emerged across the world. Here are five of my favourites. Enjoy!
Stockholm’s T-Centralen Underground Station
The Stockholm underground, more commonly known as Tunnelbana (Swedish for underground or subway), is considered the largest art gallery in the world. It has earned such a reputation thanks to the majority of the stations featuring artwork from various periods throughout Swedish history making them resemble art galleries or museums. Unbelievably, a staggering 140 artists are represented in approximately 90 of Stockholm’s wonderful underground stations. However, the highlight is without a doubt the core of the Stockholm underground, the T-Centralen station.
It features a unique cavernous ceiling with rustic arches, as well as columns decorated with mosaics and typical white and blue artwork.
Riyadh Underground Station
Currently under construction is what will be one of the most beautiful and expensive underground stations in the world. King Abdullah ordered the Saudi Arabia capital to build a new six-line subway in just 4 years. The biggest station will be located in the city’s financial district and comprise an authentic architectural masterpiece fit to rival a 5-star hotel.
Marble walkways and gold-plated walkways will feature whilst the design will recall that of wind-blow sand dunes offering shade to passengers from the harsh desert sun.
Dubai’s BurJuman Underground Station
The Dubai underground features underground stations that are based on one of the four elements; wind, fire, earth and water, thus lending them a rather beautiful, futuristic and unique appearance. However, Burjuman underground station or Khalid Bin al Waleed, is without a doubt the highlight. The station comprises a tribute to the region’s marine life and local tradition of diving for pearls hence the incredible fiber optic chandeliers resembling jellyfish which emit blue light to give the impression of being under the sea.
Kaohsiung’s Formosa Boulevard Station
The city of Kaohsiung, Taiwan, is home to the beautiful Formosa Boulevard Station which connects the red and orange line, making it one of the city’s busiest stations. However, it is actually more famous for “the Dome of light” comprising a 30-metre wide dome made from individual pieces of coloured glass shipped all the way from Germany. It extends over a total of 660 square metres earning it the title of the world’s biggest art installation. More importantly, if you look you will see that this beautiful work of art features four chronologically arranged themes which relate the story of human life; Fire: Destruction and Rebirth, Earth: Prosperity and Growth, Light: The Creative Spirit and Water: The Womb of Life. Narcissus Quagliata was the artist behind the “the Dome of Light”.
It apparently took four years to complete and the overall message of the piece is that of love and tolerance.
Moscow’s Komsomolskaya Underground Station
Finally, Komsomolskaya underground station is located on the Moscow metro, more specifically on the Koltsevaya line. With it’s beautiful Baroque-style vaulted ceiling, stunning chandeliers and marble columns it resembles a palace or museum more than it does an underground station. Eight large ceiling mosaics, decorated with precious stones and smalt, also feature. They were inspired by Stalin’s 1941 speech at the Red Army Parade on Moscow’s Red Square and symbolise Russia’s many struggles for independence and freedom throughout history.
Not bad to look at while you’re on your way to work!