Bologna Station, a paradigm shift: spaces, sounds, uses
Over the past few years, under the “Grandi Stazioni” project, the main Italian railway stations have been restructured and modernised; primary goal of this modernisation is to modify the practices and uses traditionally associated with these places, which aspire to become efficient spaces with an increasing range of services and comforts. Among the stations that have had to undergo a spatial and functional restructuring, this essay focuses on Bologna Centrale Railway Station: through a semiotic perspective, the analysis pays particular attention to the observation of spaces, soundscapes and the interaction between these elements. Regarding the primary practice that takes place in a station (catch a train), a standard route has been identified: it is divided into three sections linked to three important areas (hall, underpass and platform). The analysis of this route focuses on different degrees of user competence: different knowledge influences the access to the spaces and their use. The analysis of the station itself and the texts in which the “Grandi Stazioni” project is clearly stated show that the dominant isotopy of the place and the “effect of sense” primarily perceived as a result of the restructuring, which has not yet been completed, are related to the assertion of a specific value, the efficiency, variously conveyed (the dehumanisation of services, the increase in safety and accessibility, the attempt to create a soundscape in which the dominant element is the silence).