The next time your train spends five minutes stuck inside a filthy, rat-infested Tube tunnel, or you find yourself unable to squeeze onto yet another delayed train from a cramped, non-descript station, it’s probably best not to think of Riyadh.
For, while London Underground passengers face poky platforms not really designed for the millions of users they encounter every day, where the only decoration are endless advertising billboards - a new state-of-the art, ultra-luxurious underground station is being built in Saudi Arabia.
With its gold-plated walls, space-age designs, huge marble walkways and a sophisticated passenger flow system designed to ensure rush hour commutes are as stress-free as possible, Riyadh’s recently commissioned King Abdullah Financial District Metro Station is set to become the most luxurious underground stop in the world.
The project is not some far-off fantasy either; the man funding the project, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, has demanded the station be ready for passengers in just four years – the time it often takes for a major station overhaul in New York or London.
What may be particularly frustrating to the weary UK commuter, however, is that the entire project has been designed by the half-British architect Zaha Hadid. Somewhat ironically, Hadid - the award winning designer behind the Maxxi museum in Rome and Seoul‘s Dongdaemun Design Plaza & Park - works from an office in London.
Along with numerous private residential buildings, Hadid has worked on countless major international projects, such as: 33-35 Hoxton Square in London, the d'Leedon building in Singapore, the Beethoven Concert Hall in Germany, the Changsha Meixihu International Culture and Arts Centre in China, Slovakia's Bratislava Culenova New City Centre and the CMA CGM headquarters in Marseille, France.
With its breathtaking sky bridges, huge car parking system and multi-level shopping areas, the King Abdullah Financial District Metro Station above-ground entrance will be a colossal building built in the futuristic, gently curving, glass-dominated design for which Hadid has become famous.
The 20,434 metre-square station’s appeal won’t be entirely aesthetic however. As befits an underground stop in one of the hottest cities in the world, a cutting edge air conditioning system will be in place to keep commuters cool.
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