The World’s Coolest Subways—Take A Trip With Us Into The Velvet Underground

From colossal to compact, artsy to Star-Trekish, take a ride with Agorafy on the coolest subways of the world.

By Archana Aithal Rose December 23, 2016

It’s hard to forget the first time one looks up into the gargantuan gothic space of London’s King’s Cross station – writhing volutes of glass, wood and wrought iron castings. Through the clear dome above are grey skies and old Victorian architecture that oddly feels like the sets of a Vampire movie – dark, decadent and mysterious. As a port of entry into London, it plays an important role in defining how one perceives the city. And it’s possibly that exact sentiment that architects the world over are now trying to tap into in designing the subways of the future. From colossal to compact, artsy to Star-Trekish, take a ride with Agorafy on the coolest subways of the world. And quelle joieour very own New York City actually made the cut.

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Easily one of the most awaited and ambitious subway projects in the world, Santiago Calatrava’s World Trade Center transportation hub in NYC finally opened to public, or at least partially. With an estimated cost of $4 Billion, it also ranks as the world’s most expensive station. It’s definitely a feather in NYC’s cap, after our subways have notoriously been called rat-infested, dark dungeons. When in full swing, the WTC hub is expected to receive an average of 250,000 daily commuters and millions of annual tourists. An architectural interpretation of a white dove being released from a child’s hand, Calatrava’s creation encompasses a marble-clad concourse with spiky overheads called the Oculus. This constantly evolving maquette will have a huge shopping component, also linking the station to some pivotal interest points in NYC.

Credit: Anthomy Quintero / Oculus World Trade Center New York City
Credit: Anthomy Quintero / Oculus World Trade Center New York City

Says Dezeen of this game-changing moment in subway culture, “Unlike airports, railroad stations can become gathering points and catalysts for urban transformation. Unfortunately, that means that more often than not they cause gentrification.” But gentrification as we know, can sometimes be a good thing, especially if it means the redevelopment of old stations to meet modern standards. And, if this change can be pursued without compromising its history. Dubai’s BurJuman station (original name – Khalid Bin Al Waleed) marries the city’s heritage with modern design. Its interiors represent the four elements of nature (water, earth, fire and air) with enormous chandeliers in the shape of jellyfish. Dubai’s need for decadence is visible even in the metro’s details.

Photo courtesy of

The Hague Central station in the Dutch city of Hague is a part of a major overhaul with high-speed lines, accommodating close to 190,000 travelers everyday. Benthem Crouwel Architects replaced the 1970’s concrete structure with a light-filled box thatholds public areas next to rows of platforms with elevated tramlines – all this under a dramatic twisted roof. In Germany, architects teamed up with artists to construct the new Dusseldorf Wehrhahn line’s six U-Bahn stations. Each one of the artists was allotted one station to give the visitors an eclectic range of experiences as they navigate the new network. A signature rhombus motif runs through every station to provide thematic continuity.

Photo courtesy of Jannes Linders Hague Central Station

Toledo metro station in Naples, Italy may very well be-a space-age armada, featuring 50 shades of blue in Bizacca mosaics. The mosaic covers its ceilings, walls and practically every square inch of the space. Located under the Naples’ main shopping streets, the metro was designed in the theme of water and light, by the Spanish firm of architect Oscar Tusquets Blanca.

Photo courtesy of Andrea Resmini / Design Boom Toledo Metro Station

Just like Toledo, subways are turning into multidimensional structures serving multiple purposes. Visitors are given a much more complex aesthetics and environments to engage and interact with the city. Think of them as moving museums. Getting around has never been so much fun.

Archana Aithal Rose

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Archana Aithal Rose

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Archana Aithal Rose

Archana Aithal Rose’s articles have appeared in The Times of India, CNNGo, Condé Nast Traveler and Vogue, covering such broad range of topics as fashion, art, travel, culture, celebrities, architecture and technology. In addition to writing, Archana's also known for her mad photography and cooking skills.

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