Old Montreal Subway Cars Become Art

Canadian artists and architects are upcycling the cars to create art installations and buildings. 

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In the U.K., England’s 1970s subways were refurbished into new trains. The U.S. recently recycled old New York City subway cars into marine habitats. Now, Canada's used subway cars are becoming art installations and buildings.

Montreal’s metro system, the Societe de Transport de Montreal, just hit its 50th anniversary and decided to sell its MR-63 cars last year. The MR-63 is a sky-blue car with a white stripe that was designed by Jacques Guillon in 1963. Three hundred sixty-nine MR-63s were produced.

The city wanted to recycle these cars and opened a public contest last year. Anyone could submit creative proposals for a project that will utilize the cars and honor the metro’s history.

“We thought it would be a good idea to offer the public the opportunity to give us some ideas of what we can do with those cars,” said Philippe Schnobb, chairman of the STM.

Out of 30 submissions, seven restoration ideas were chosen. Projects include a garden display, a building, a car-turned café, and a sculpture.

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Le BOCAL, a creative lab in Quebec City, will construct a train-inspired landscape exhibit at Reford Gardens in Grand-Métis, Quebec.

Frédéric Morin-Bordeleau will create a building out of eight cars. The structure will feature a gallery, café, bar, and a community space. This project is set to be finished in 2020.

Polytechnical research and design lab, FAB LAB, will renovate a car and turn it into an internet café. 

Michel de Broin will make a sculpture by fusing 16 subway doors together. It will be called “Suils,” which is French for “threshold,” and will play with traditional subway-door mechanics.

The MR-63s not used in the project will be recycled—one car per day—by American Iron and Metal.