Friday 28 September 2012

Milan Centrale

Milano Centrale
Mamiya C3
Fuji Acros 100

Milan Central is actually about two miles away from the middle of Milan. It's an enormous, squared-off block that was finished in 1931, after having spent twenty years as presumably a make-work project. It's often cited as an example of fascist architecture, but construction began many years before Mussolini came to power. Nonetheless it probably appealed to him because it's built on a monumental scale. The enormous platform hall and waiting area make a certain amount of sense, because it's a busy station; but the entrance hall (above) and plaza are just ridiculous. They're very photogenic though.

The station has been covered in construction work for years. It's always put me in mind of Berlin's now-defunct Tempelhof Airport. They're built to the same oversized scale, although the architectural style is very different. They belong to separate eras. Milan Central dates from a time when a nation's railways were its pride and joy; Templehof's mid-30s expansion was intended to demonstrate Nazi Germany's mastery of the air. The new frontier.

Is there a modern equivalent of these ancient temples? Flying is still the most advanced form of mass transportation, and nations still judge their economic health against the size of their airports, but air transport no longer has much romantic appeal. Too many people have spent too long going through security gates - taking off their shoes and belts, wondering whether Marmite is a liquid or not - to wax romantic about air travel any more.

And we're entering an age when people travel space and time whilst sitting at a desk in front of a computer. I can't imagine server farms becoming the new temples of human endeavour. There's Kennedy Space Centre, I suppose, but there's a fin de si├Ęcle air about it. And Baikonur, but I mentally associate it with commercial resupply flights rather than daring missions to defeat the Treen menace. Perhaps in the future we'll, like, worship each other, or worship nothing at all.

Or we could worship Lana Del Rey, because that's Lana Del Rey up there (for H&M) towering over the railway people of Milan. Imagine if she broke out of the poster and ran amuk in some kind of berserker frenzy. Think of the amount of tranquilisers you'd need to bring down a fifty-foot-tall Lana Del Rey, think about that. You'd need at least one gallon of tranquilisers. One gallon.