The first phase of a new Zaha Hadid-designed high-speed train station near Naples has been completed and begun service. Part of a larger plan to improve rail connectivity throughout southern Italy, the Napoli Afragola train station features an interesting design and includes significant sustainable technology.

Initially proposed back in 2003, the Napoli Afragola train station was recently inaugurated by Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni and became operational on June 11. It currently serves 18 high-speed trains and up to 10,000 passengers per day. However, once all rail lines are up and running, this will eventually increase to 28 trains, and an estimated 32,700 passengers each day.

Structurally, the project is pretty interesting and comprises a reinforced concrete base that supports an elevated concourse consisting of 200 large steel ribs. The steel ribs are clad in Corian and topped by a glazed roof. The building also draws from advanced building techniques pioneered during the Zaha Hadid Architects' most significant Italian project to date, Rome's MAXXI museum.

"The concrete used within the station is a specific composition that provides optimum performance, with curved structural concrete elements built using technologies initially developed during the construction of the MAXXI Museum in Rome: wooden formwork replaced by prefabricated steel units, and double-curves realized with formwork created from CNC milled polystyrene models," explains the firm in a press release.

In addition to serving passengers and trains, the station's concourse itself acts as a public bridge over the railway tracks for locals to use. The concourse also provides passengers easy access to platforms, shops, cafes, and the central atrium.

The Napoli Afragola station features a significant amount of sustainable design. The main concourse has been oriented to ensure natural lighting and ventilation is maximized, while solar panels are integrated into the roof, reducing grid-based electricity usage. Ground source heating and cooling systems keep the interior at a comfortable temperature efficiently, by drawing heat from, and dumping excess heat into, the ground.

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