For three days, The North Train Station (Gara de Nord), the most important railway junction in Bucharest, turned into a meeting place for enthusiasts of art, music, movies and trains.
The second edition of Train Delivery, an urban-railway event meant to revitalize a symbolic space of Bucharest- Gara de Nord, the Romanian name for the North Train Station – took place between the 25th and 27th of July 2014. Train Delivery aims to create a quality public space. Organized by the Cărtureşti Foundation and The Romanian Railway Company (CFR), it benefited from ARCUB financing and was meant to be a sequence to Street Delivery.
They say that Gara de Nord has witnessed more genuine kisses than the Marital Status Office. How many stories of love and betrayal have begun in this gateway to the world? How many millions of people have met Bucharest here for the first time? How many have missed their train and how many got on a train to the seaside on the spur of the moment? How many songs have been written about this emblematic place? How many hours have you spent here, in anticipation of a short-lived everlasting love?
At Train Delivery, visitors could rediscover a historic monument and a cultural emblem for the city, unfortunately lapsed into obsolescence in the last years. We bet you will fall in love with the Bucharest North Train Station once you’ve learned more about it.
Opened in 1872, Gara de Nord is the most important train station in Bucharest and the largest railway junction of Romania: 200 trains and 10,000 people pass through it daily. Few of them know that it survived the Allied bombing in 1944 or that Ceaușescu was planning to tear it down. Even fewer have entered the Royal Hall especially built for the visit of Emperor Franz Joseph of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a fabulous room where King Carol I of Romania would quietly wait for his personal train. Almost nobody knows that there is an auditorium of 450 seats at the upper floor of the train station or that the CFR Museum houses one of the most interesting collections of dioramas with miniature electric trains in Romania.
What went on at Train Delivery?
For three days, a train was parked at platform 14, the broadest one in Gara de Nord. Walking from one compartment to another, visitors could pass through exhibitions, watch performances, experience having a meal on a restaurant on rails and enjoy other urban facilities. In the meantime, some of the best graffiti artists in Romania were painting the train on the outside, and musicians were performing on the platform. These events, along with dozens of other projects, were meant to restore the station to its former glory. On the platform, visitors could also witness how a freight wagon was converted into a café, a bookshop and a meeting place, by means of a plastic-sculptural intervention that involved cutting its steel board and turning it into furniture.
But things did not end on the platform. Visitors had the chance to get to know the station as they hadn’t known it before, starting with a visit to the CFR Museum (where every parent should take their child), the Royal Hall (where the nostalgic and the architecture lovers took part in debates with some of the most interesting intellectuals of the moment), the Auditorium (where visitors could watch movies related to railway culture, such as ” Well-guarded Trains” by Jiri Menzel), the waiting rooms, the Mother and Child lounge, the traditional pubs, and even the rooms where the ladies of the station traditionally announce the train timetable from.
The Music Scene
Following a project competition, ARCUB financed the music and the graffiti scenes. They did not fall short of expectations, so Train Delivery was an explosion of colorful music and a true symphony of spray cans. At the previous edition, it was Corina Chiriac, Rimaru, Norzeatic, and Vlad Dobrescu (among others) who performed onstage, this edition the artists who performed were Silvia Dumitrescu & Disco, Rodion, Avant’n’Gard. On Sunday, the visitors were offered a treat: a whole day of jazz music. Sweet Damage Crew, IRLO, Kero, ERPS or Dablef are just some of the graffiti artists who were part of the event. Fortunately, they were kind enough not to draw on other trains than those agreed upon with the National Romanian Railway Company, CFR.
Long-term improvements of Gara de Nord
What is the legacy of the first edition of Train Delivery? The following improvements were brought:
Ideas for a facelift of Gara de Nord
We would like to show you in the pictures below the ideas that were the starting point of the first Train Delivery Edition:
01. The pathway through the railway station:
- A line drawn on the floor guiding visitors through the station
- Linoleum imprinted with traffic-resistant information
- Signaling important spots and improvements
- Surprises strewn along the way
02. Toilet à la Gara de Nord:
- Everybody thinks that the toilets at Gara de Nord are unusable
- We will impress the visitors with a clean and modern toilet
- A toilet equipped with toilet paper
- Such pleasant surprises generate satisfaction and commitment
03. Train station “WI-FI-ization”:
- Providing free or very cheap internet throughout the station
- Introducing the possibility of payment via a text message or a card
- Offering the potential for feedback
- Enabling communication through the station via smartphone
04. Broadcasting live images of Romanian landscapes:
- Setting cameras on some trains travelling through the country
- Broadcasting live images of Romanian landscapes on screens installed at Gara de Nord
- Expanding the waiting rooms
- Showing how beautiful Romania really is
05. Digital projection of the train timetable:
- One projector, lots of information
- Pilot project set at platform 3
- The exact information provided: the train you are waiting for, its time of arrival, its destination
- Please ignore the Timișoreana beer logo on the right-hand side
06. Market at the train station:
- Why have just maize flour rolls and crackers?
- The market of the Gara de Nord is just around the corner
- Open at weekends, during special events or all the time
- Could potentially attract more visitors to the CFR Museum
07. Indoor garden:
- GREEN at the end of the track rails!
- Vegetation- to welcome and bid farewell to guests
- Beautifully concealing the back of the stalls close to the platforms
- Vegetation is vital to people’s well-being
- Planting trees inside the station
- The main trainstation hall turned into a greenhouse
- Imagine having a coffee underneath a tree!
- The railway station is a theater in need of an amphitheater
- A chance to perform shows and have fun
- The public turns into the protagonist
- Trainspotter’s heaven
10. Lighting à la Saint Lazare:
- Neon lighting can be so cold and sad
- We turn neon lamps upwards, towards the wooden laths
- The space is transformed thanks to the softened light
- Old lamps, new colours
11. Stained glass windows:
- Painting the present Plexiglas in colors
- The greenhouse effect will be toned down
- A colorful life is beautiful
12. Sharp time:
- The old clock at the station can no longer be heard
- Bringing back to life a hallmark sound
- Fostering good neighborliness
- The sound of the station blending in with the rhythm of the city
- Queuing for tickets can be very boring
- The tall hall makes it less intimate
- We bring the lamps closer to the floor by turning them into clouds- The hall comes down to more human dimensions
14. Mother and child lounge:
- We cannot rethink the whole design of the station, just a few essential spots
- A sound whitewashing of walls plus IKEA furniture, arranged by a designer
- Toys, drawing books, cartoons
15. Miniature trains:
- The Royal waiting room is now open to the public
- Have a cup of tea while visiting the miniature trains exhibition
- The fanclub of miniature trains lovers will be delighted
16. “Gypsy press”:
- Gara de Nord is home to many homeless people
- We intend to turn it from an illegal shelter into a workplace
- Magazines and newspapers will be distributed by boys and girls in uniforms
- People will give money for a noble cause, so the value of the magazines will increase
17. Multiplayer Breakout:
- Aa space reserved for social games in Gara de Nord
- Kinetic: movement detector for X people
- Strangers form a team against the rainbow wall
- Fun, involvement, socialization, connecting to each other
18. Platform 14:
- The broadest platform in the station• a museum• Eco-market
- Bringing old wagons to life
- Performance, exhibitions, graffiti, theatre and parties
- An alternative space for the inhabitants of Bucharest
19. First platform. Mural painting:
- The history of the station painted on the wall
- A painted timeline: the past and future of the station
- One train: each wagon representing a different epoch
20. Mini cinema with short movies:
- 24h/day showing short movies
- Mobile or static screen
- A space especially reserved for it
- Alternative space for waiting and culture
21. Interactive litter bins:
- How to make people throw the litter where it belongs?
- The fantastic Swedish idea can be also adopted by us
Photo source: Niste calatori 2013.
Entrance at Train Delivery was free: there were no fees, no fences, no armbands and no tickets. Details about the line-up, projects, and other railway stuff can be found here (in Romanian): www.traindelivery.ro .
Translation in English by Alexandra Calu.