METRO-POLIT(ICI)AN



 

When “Métro, boulot, dodo” becomes “Métro, resto, speedo”.

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The rhyming French expression “métro, boulot, dodo” is a wonderfully succinct way of saying that you live to work (Métro refers to a subway commute, boulot is an informal word for work, and dodo is baby talk for sleeping; nothing to do with the bird, or the jewellery). It could be translated literary by “commute, work, sleep,” but really means “the rat race, the same old routine, work work work” and doesn’t quite capture the poetic sense of movement of the French expression.

GCSE French lesson aside, election campaigns for the much-coveted role of mayor are currently rife in Paris. As the tradition in politics dictates, promises, pledges and prevarications by the hopeful candidates are in order. Centre-right candidate Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, aka NKM, is proposing to renovate abandoned métro stations in the City of Lights and to transform some of the derelict, disused spaces into a swimming pool, a restaurant, a performance theatre, a garden, an art gallery and une discothèque. Genius, n’est-ce pas! Wouldn’t it be fun if these subterranean tunnels would become a place to go and relax instead of the grimy, noisy, smelly and over-crowded tunnels we, urbanite mortals, have to endure on our daily grind?


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NKM commissioned French studios Oxo Architectes and Laisné Associés to conceptualise and design these century-old spaces (the métro de Paris opened in 1900) and turn them into capacious, urban environments (A-Gent of Style is not quite convinced a watercolour by Jeremiah Goodman or Walter Gay would quite cut la moutarde here; CAD drawings can be brilliant).

Between 1930-1970, sixteen underground stations in Paris closed and have been abandoned since, additionally to the ones which were also built but never opened and those which have been used as sets for films like the Porte-des-Lilas, notoriously used as a backdrop in the 2001 film Amélie.

Arsenal station closed in 1936

Arsenal station closed in 1936

 

As expected, the proposal has encountered obstacles primarily because of the prohibitive cost of implementing such a huge project (was the Eiffel Tower or President Mitterand’s Bilbiothèque Nationale cheap?) and also because of security and safety issues (aren’t over-crowded tube stations already a threat to the public, every day?).

We will have to be patient and wait until the elections on March, 30 to find out if these conceptual ideas to reclaim these phantom stations ever see the day of light (literally). Who knows, in a few years, one might be able to say “Yesterday, I went swimming dans le métro“!


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Have a great weekend everyone. A-Gent of Style will be celebrating his thirty-something birthday.







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