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Pools, Restaurants & More .... in Metro Stations?

Kevin Van Lierop

Unused Paris Metro stations have a lot of potential to be converted into functional spaces, such as swimming pools, auditoriums and nightclubs, so one mayoral candidate seems to think.

The idea of transforming unused or under-utilized spaces into something better is one way we can ensure that our cities remain relevant with inhabitants of the present day and future.

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  • Anita W

    Adaptive reuse projects like this isn't exactly new. There are many many places in the world that have transformed from old abandoned spaces into new and hip social hubs. There have been old churches turned into bars (Shoolbred's in Scotland), old banks turned into a walgreens (Walgreens, Wicker Park - Chicago), old electricity plants turned into speakeasy bars (The Edison in downtown Los Angeles)... They're all awesome ideas and although I can't exactly imagine an underground pool, I certainly love the idea of the theater!

    • Kevin Van Lierop


      You're absolutely correct, adaptive reuse isn't anything new. I think what makes this case interesting and in many ways special is the iconic nature of the Paris Metro and how interconnected and important it is to the city city.

      Transforming a church is one thing, as it most likely 'self contained', however, when it comes to something such as the Metro and the stations that are the basis for its interconnectedness I think we're looking at something much larger.

      I think of New York's Highline when I'm trying to draw a relevant comparison but even that is something very different.

      I'm not completely sold on all of the uses but I think it is the process of imagining and determining all potential options that I find most interesting.

      • Anita W

        That's a good point- there's something interesting about this project where it addresses the "unused" transportation spaces of the city and thereby pushing for a broader scheme of how a city is interconnected.

        And if the NY highline doesn't draw a comparison perhaps we can look to the Hong Kong or Japanese subways where they have underground 'megamalls' that house grocery markets, restaurants, supply stores, clothing shops, etc. that sit at each metro station. The stations then become focal points for businesses where every need of life could be satisfied within the station walls.

        To that point I would even disagree to your statement on how adaptive reuse is a "self contained" element. Most adaptive reuse projects are in its nature a catalyst- thinking about all the industrial spaces in Los Angeles or Chicago that have turned into high end residences and coffee shops.

        • Kevin Van Lierop

          I think the underground 'megamalls' you mention are a different 'beast'. In Toronto, Canada there is the P.A.T.H (link below) which is similar. What differentiates these from the article originally linked is that these spaces generally function for both business AND transportation and either were built as such or have been adapted to serve both functions. Compare this with repurposing the metro stations without any transportation.

          Regardless, it will be interesting to see what (if anything) happens with them.

          And sorry, when I wrote 'self contained' I meant that repurposing a church it's typically a single location/structure (although it's repurpose no-doubt has an impact on its surroundings) compared to multiple metro stations that are already connected themselves and have been the very pieces that have connected the city as a whole.

          • Anita W

            oOo that is a very interesting . Thanks for sharing! Hmm I might have misread and assumed that the project he was addressing were stations that were unused but still adjacent to working stops.

            Maybe in my mind it seems like such a reality to have "abandoned functional metro stations" since here in LA it seems to be the case where a metro stop is fully functional yet the programs inside are empty and hollow.

            But what an interesting thing to think about! - an intricate sub city web tied together by nodes of program- with these abandoned metro stops as trail blazers if you will. I could see why you would compare it with the diller+scofidio high line....

  • Alessandra Rizzotti

    Amazing. I love seeing underutilized spaces being used creatively!!! Do you know of other spaces like this?