The subway stops on the U5 line between Innsbrucker Ring and Neuperlach-Süd are just four of over forty stations in Munich’s subway network and, completed in 1980, some of the oldest in operation. As part of a broader feasibility study, we helped develop the basic framework for the forthcoming renovation of the U5 subway line.
The main design elements are the rear track façades; in other words, the walls bordering the platform area on the opposite side of the tracks. Stripped of all cladding, cleaned and filled, they become the defining feature of the space. A permeable film is applied to the surface of the reinforced concrete walls displays motifs that relate to the neighborhoods, point of interest or the personalities that gave the stations their names. Through a process of abstraction and fragmentation, these walls are fully transformed: The motifs are composed of pixels of different sizes, which viewers only recognize as a concrete image at second glance or from the right distance. Each façade measures over a hundred meters in length and resembles a digital screen of varying resolutions, giving viewers a keen sense of movement and speed. Beyond the links to the name of the subway stops, there are other fleeting yet memorable reference points for passengers in each façade.
At the Neuperlach Zentrum stop, for example, the façade creates a connection with the surroundings using silhouettes and detailed images of the neighborhood’s most characteristic buildings. The motif at the Quiddestraße station, named for Nobel Peace Prize winner Ludwig Quidde, has a graphic network of triangles superimposed with a stylized image of a dove. The Michaelibad station transports passengers to an outdoor pool scene. And motifs from the stage and screen career of Munich-born actress Therese Giehse dominate the eponymous station, appearing sporadically where the pixels are compressed before receding into the background again.
While the motifs become a distinguishing feature of the neighborhood at each stop, there are graphic elements that unite them all into one cohesive design. The U5 line’s signature yellow, for instance, features prominently within the motifs or in the station’s lighting design. These different light effects contribute to the dynamic flow of the design beyond a single section of track – in line with a central theme of the master design guidelines that outline the standard milestones of every intermediate phase.
The project photos show the status as of September 2022.