Estación Central, Chile


Chile’s Estación Central was designed in 1897 by Gustave Eiffel, who also designed the Eiffel Tower and a number of significant bridges. The station is a national monument and the surrounding commune is named after it. As a hub of public transportation, it houses the state-run train and a Metro station. Several local bus lines stop in front of the station and three intercity bus terminals are within walking distance. Adjacent to the station is a mid-sized shopping center. The station demonstrates three important values.

1. Spirit of the Time Aesthetic

The building is a significant reflection of the zeitgeist in which it was built. The central sheltered area is kind of a raised iron bridge, buttressed by two concrete buildings. The Estación Central is iconic of the industrial revolution that made the railway itself possible.

2. Form and Function Benefit the Community

The large, open architecture makes the station look like a pavilion. Going to the station feels like a special event. Throughout the year, tents are raised in the courtyard for events such as a health and wellness fair. Gazebos, carousels, and enormous Christmas trees also make a rotation. The building facilitates a spirit of celebration and provides a center for community gatherings.

3. Intuitive Wayfinding

The station is highly visible during the day or night, making it a reference point for someone to situate themselves within the city. A large clock in middle of the entrance area helps visitors locate themselves within the station. Wayfinding within the station is intuitive and based on visual cues. (I had no trouble of locating where Internet pictures fit in the larger context of the station even though I have never been there.)

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