Construction, coordination and interior fittings

Completion 1997


Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau was commissioned with the interior design of the “Metropolitan” train by the Deutsche Bahn AG (national railway) and the general contractor, Fahrzeugtechnik Dessau GmbH. The “Metropolitan” raises the bar in terms of comfort, service and design for passenger traffic. Travellers enjoy an ambience wholly unexpected from a train. The design for the new train came from gmp, the architectural firm of Gerkan, Marg and Partner, Hamburg. gmp placed great emphasis on high-quality materials: stainless steel, black leather, Swiss pear wood. This wood, a very sophisticated material, is prized for its subtle warm and honey-yellow tint. Highly complex structural elements were produced at Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau for the interior outfitting of the “Metropolitan”. Wooden material in railroad car construction? Initially, the experts expressed their utter scepticism. Mainly because solid wood was simply not an option, at the very least because of fire safety regulations. Yet our employees worked out suitable base materials which were then veneered.
Strict safety regulations apply to the interior furnishings of railroad cars. For instance, all components must be able to withstand five times the acceleration due to gravity. Forms and structures should eliminate any risk of injury entirely – a major difference to “normal” furniture, as the Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau would soon discover. Interior fittings also have to be created in such fashion so as to dramatically cushion vibrations. A great many technical requirements had to be incorporated into the constructional work.
gmp came up with an interesting concept for the “Metropolitan” lighting: illuminating the internal contours of the railroad cars as reflecting surfaces. Individual reading lamps provide additional sources of light. From the moulded seats to the vestibule areas – Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau guaranteed a coordinated veneer design throughout the entire interior. This was the reason why the veneer finish was so deliberately made from Swiss pear wood. A special lacquer was custom developed for the “Metropolitan” in close collaboration with a varnish manufacturer to yield scratch-resistant surfaces.
Stability, durability and fire safety – due to the requirements set forth by the railway, the complications facing the natural materials were quite high. But, of course, the Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau specialists were well able to take the drafts and designs from gmp and the material specifications from the architects and turn them into stunning reality. Today, the “Metropolitan” is the moving proof for the applicability of wood materials on high-speed trains.

Text: Anke Müller
Photo: PR