Try to imagine a scene in a Marvel movie in which the Hulk has picked up a tram car and rammed it into the sidewalk. That’s kind of what the entrance to the Bockenheimer Warte subway station looks like! The Bockenheimer Warte subway station is an important interchange station to the west of Frankfurt’s city center. Although inside it is similar to many others around Germany and the world, it is very easy to spot from above ground because the entrance looks like a tram car half buried in the concrete sidewalk.
This very unusual entrance was designed by the architect Zbigniew Peter Pininski, and has a particular history. The Bockenheimer Warte station was for a long time, from 1872 to 1966, an important road junction for city trams, and until 1978 there was the general tram control station of the whole city. At the time, locals were concerned about the expansion of the city’s transport network, and any new construction was being fiercely debated and frequently opposed. And of course, In the early 1980s, when the tram-shaped entrance was planned, a bitter controversy had developed in the city over the expansion of city transport and related discomforts.
Pininski, therefore, decided to design something that might bring a smile to the faces of the frowning inhabitants.
Inspired by the work of the Belgian surrealist artist René Magritte, the architect designed a subway entrance that looked like an old tram car rammed into the sidewalk. Local authorities gave the green light to his whimsical idea, and it was completed in 1986 along with the B and C levels of the subway station.
It was a funny and sharp metaphor: we move from public transport on rails, to the more modern and less impacting subway. Of course this did not stop the inhabitants’ controversies about the ever-expanding transport network, but it was hard not to smile just a little at the sight of the Bockenheimer Warte entrance.
When the station underwent a major expansion in 2001, the entrance could have been moved or redesigned. But thankfully, at least for all those subway users with an eye for the eccentric, the quality of the work and its recognizability saved it from demolition. The entrance was left untouched, and people still make a special stop at Bockenheimer Warte station just to see its unique design and the tram stuck in the sidewalk welcomes all the travelers passing through the station.
👉🏼 Notes: the Bockenheimer Warte subway station is located along Bockenheimer Landstraße to the west of Frankfurt’s city center. The entrance is just north of Goethe University.