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CARACAS UNDERGROUND

Mobility, Transformation, Urbanism

In the modern city, the most common mass transportation method is the Subway, with the ability to transport people long distances in a short time, causing many city to use it regularly. This requires that the public spaces of the metro have a character of nodal exchange, where many pedestrian flows are at the metropolitan level, having in turn a local impact through their recreational spaces.

Currently in Caracas, the user experience is not very pleasant, since it goes through long and tedious processes of rapid circulation and prolonged waiting, all this immersed within decayed, enclosed, dark and very poorly ventilated spaces that generally cause stress and discomfort for the user. The seek for this research project is focused on improving the spaces of the city in relation to the Caracas Metro System through the architecture of the stations, offering fluidity of circulation, natural light, natural ventilation and wide opened spaces, guaranteeing user comfort in the most common transportation method in Caracas, focused on an area of ​​urban relations that allow establishing programmatic multifunctionality in the stations for the city as a whole.

With this opportunity, the thesis project idea was born, which investigates different urban aspects. In this way, metro stations open to the city are developed, where cultural, commercial, residential, road and academic components complement the urban relationship with the underground world of the Caracas Metro, resulting in different multifunctional and dynamic proposals.

College: Universidad Simónm Bolívar.
Tutor: Aliz Mena
Caracas, Venezuela
Jul, 2020

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THE METRO
AND THE CITY

The first train system in Caracas was opened to the public in 1877, which worked from Caracas to La Guaira.  The principal train station was located near Plaza Bolívar of Caracas, considered the center of the city. and because of the rapid growth of the population in Caracas, soon the city will need an internal modality of land transportation. That’s how the trolley car was implemented in 1906, solving in the short term the need for public transportation. The implementation of the system sped the growth of the city. It's the 1940's, and the economic growth of Venezuela is booming, thanks to the oil. Grand avenues and high-speed highways are taking control over the lands of Caracas, solving in the short term once again the public transportation problem.
 
Even so, with the amazing economic growth of Caracas, public transportation is still a problem and the car will not solve this. That’s how the first mass transportation system is being developed.
 
 
The first metro line was developed in 1983, with 7 stations connecting the west to the center of Caracas. The metro station was conceived under a public space perspective: parks, squares and corridors were built, giving priority to the pedestrian over the car. In 1987 the second line was being developed and a new land transportation system was born, the MetroBus. This complementary line will help the Metro to perform more efficiently with 64 new surface bus stops. Other mass transportations systems were added in 2006, with the construction of La Rinconada Station and Las Adjuntas, making the city of Caracas wide connected with fast and cheap transportation.
 
For 2015 there are lots of plans and projects for the expansion of the system, including cableways, bus lines, train systems and so on. However, the design of the metro station has changed the perspective, there used to be public spaces and parks in the 1990's, but now, the access is introverted and located in tighter spaces.

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Each metro station has opportunities to improve its surroundings through parks, boulevards, museums, office centers. The investigation creates an approximation using 5 urban components to determine which metro station has the most potential to change the city, there are a green component, a cultural, a vial, business, and an academic component. Which every of these components are taking into consideration over the metro station. This is the result of the evaluation system, and here i'm showing which stations has the most  opportunity to improve the surroundings

Resulting in these 6 following statioins: Bellas Artes, Ciudad Universitaria, Chacaito, Las Mercedes, Warairarepano y Miranda.

BELLAS
ARTES

This station is well known for its proximity to many cultural centers and museums. It is located under a busy street in the center of Caracas, where great office towers were built, such as Torres de Parque Central.

Near the metro station it is located this construction area, in front of the National Gallery of Art. So the investigation develops an integration of thi plaza with an underground green park, creating different levels variations and connecting with the Anauco river, generating a water plaza in front of the metro station.

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CIUDAD
UNIVERSITARIA

This one is well known for being near one of the most important universities of Venezuela. Universidad Central de Venezuela. It's a whole complex of campuses, stadiums, parks and corridors. And the metro station is located on the main entrance of the university. near Paseo los Ilustres, which is an important bulevar of Caracas.

Most of its surroundings are academic because of the  university. and the investigation develops and improvement of the entrance of the university, modifying the roof of the metro platform to open it into the sky and creating a spiral staircase. On the other side there's a public academic building, where anyone could attend classes.

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MIRANDA

The Miranda Station is located in front of one of the most important Parks of Caracas, Parque del Este, between two grand and principal avenues of the city.

It's surroundings are mainly residencial, but the protagonist is the park. The station is already built, but there is a connection for the fifth line of the metro. The investigation develops a pedestrian connection from the station to the park, and proposes a new cultural center that solves the connectivity over the avenue. taking into consideration that there must be a corridor that connects the old metro station to the new project. This is done by opening the roof and creating a new spatial experience for the metro users.

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LAS MERCEDES

Las Mercedes station is located in one fast growing zone of Caracas, in the principal avenue of Las Mercedes.

Many office buildings are being developed, reaching mostly more than 30 meters tall. The metro station is in the bidding stage, and this is the path of the train. The investigation develops a rental scheme over the platform train, proposing an office tower over the metro station. This generates the opportunity to create plazas under the building that connects to the metro station. making an open and well ventilated waiting zone for the train.

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WARAIRAREPANO

Warairarepano station is one of the future projects of the system.

It is located at the intersection of two highways, and the zone is mainly residential because of the suburbs. The plan here is to connect 3 different systems, such as Line 5 of the metro, the Cabletren which is a cableway, and the Metro Guarenas Guatire.

The investigation develops a new residential complex that connects the surroundings with the transportation system. This includes the mass transportation, bus stops and a new cableway to connect the nearby suburbs, creating new plazas for the community, and wide open spaces for the metro circulation.

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CHACAÍTO

Located in the geographic centre of Caracas, it is well known for being under the Plaza Brion which is an important civic plaza of the city. It is located between two busy avenues, on the edge of 3 municipalities, it is almost the encounter zone of these three.

 

Its surroundings are half residential, with a high creasing business zone, there are multiple office towers being built. It has an important historic presence, because the metro station was built in 1983 and the surrounding was in a commercial booming at the time, being a physical evidence of an historic architecture evolution.

 

The underground space of the metro station is wide open, but still dark and heated, it has the potential to connect to the surroundings with other underground levels.

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UNDERGROUND
CULTURAL
CENTER OF
CHACAÍTO

Because of the important location in Caracas, the historic value, the impact on the growth of the city, the actual condition of the plaza and the underground levels, this is the reason the investigation project develops this station to the architecture detail project.

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PLAZA
BRIÓN

The project on the plaza relies on maintaining the original activity that has on the actuality, but it creates new light entrances that merges with public furnitures and amphitheatres for public presentations. The yellow identity of the metro is used to spread the color among the whole project, generating these visuals.

The underground level is spread and well connected to the surroundings. well lighted and ventilated. The circulation of the metro is clear and simple, and creates spaces for public presentations and exhibitions. The ceiling has this arched design, which creates rhythm and dynamism to the metro circulation.

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LIBRARY

This is the new Metro Public Library, the permanent collections of the history of the metro will be located there, and it will have many other academic uses such as conference rooms, studying spaces and computers rooms.

The building creates open public spaces for the user, and it has these public amphitheatres that interact with the plaza and the underground spaces. The facade is designed using the similar yellow pipes the metro station already has on the actuality, so it generates a new image for the building and the complex.

This is the access to the whole complex.

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THE TOWER

Lastly, this is the new office tower for the metro company. on the inside it has open spaces for coworking, and the basement of the tower interacts with the surroundings with cultural spaces for the metro.

The tower itself allocates the last 10 floors for the metro company, giving the rest for rental use. It has this open space as an observatory to the city. and the internals are well lightened and visually open. The facade uses the same yellow pipes already mentioned, creating this industrial look to the tower, and most importantly, it creates a new look for the metro from the skyline of caracas. Which is important because the metro had a great impact on the city and doesn't have an institutional proper building.

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