Art in construction: Bonn subway station becomes an experience space in everyday life Schwitzke & Partner transforms the "Bonner Loch" in collaboration with artists

Subway exits are usually places that are passed through as quickly as possible on the way from A to B - not a place for reflection. The city of Bonn wanted to change that: The wall cladding of the stairways leading down to the subway at Bonn's main train station was given a comprehensive artistic makeover based on a design by the artist duo Heike Weber and Walter Eul. Unclad, gray concrete gives way to red-orange glass walls. The artistic vision was implemented by the Düsseldorf architectural firm Schwitzke & Partner, with support from the Bonn lighting design firm LKL.

"In reference to the baroque history of Bonn, we refer to the ceiling painting of that era, which visually delimits and opens up the built space - the real, underground entrance is virtually built on into the seemingly infinite. The overground exits, which form the entrée to the city, atmospherically attune to the wall works to the track exits. At the same time, they reflect the real surroundings of the station exits in watercolor. Photographic motifs of the station surroundings appear as textures in a playful form. Above and below combine to form a whole," say the artists Heike Weber and Walter Eul about the concept.

The redesign used porcelain stoneware for the walls and mesh-like expanded metal for the ceiling. The walls were covered with glass that was printed according to the artistic design. The subway stood still for only 72 hours during the nine-month renovation phase - under strict safety measures, the total of nine stairways at Bonn Central Station were renewed while the train was still in operation.

Marie Ernst, Managing Director of Schwitzke & Partner: "The focus of the project for us was the ideal combination of all artistic requirements with the technical conditions. The subway accesses were redesigned while the train was in operation, and the safety of the approximately 50,000 daily passengers was the top priority. In addition, we closely involved the artists in the implementation; in particular, the color - supporting the artistic idea - was to look exactly the same on the walls in the end as in the design drawing, using printing techniques and airbrushing.  Art on buildings can emphasize a building and give locations an additional profile - in our opinion, the idea of bringing art closer to the people of Bonn in their everyday lives and making it a tangible experience has been successful."

The newly designed staircases at Bonn Central Station © Fotografische Werkstatt, Katharina Jaeger

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