Sunday, April 09, 2006

Line 1: Angrignon

Next time you find yourself at a métro terminus station, ask yourself this. Why do the inbound platforms have benches? If this is the last stop for the train, why would anyone be waiting to get on board? Perhaps for the 'thrill' of riding an empty train into the dead end tunnel before switching tracks and coming back, but with the risk of being on a train at the end of it's shift that doesn't return and instead gets taken away and parked in a dark underground marshalling yard.

On the other hand, they are good places for métrophiles to sit and absorb the place.

The whole of Montréal's métro system is underground - the Québec climate determined that simple decision many years ago, and it means that the subway is never disrupted by what's going on up on ground level. But at Angrignon you feel a lot closer to the blue sky. The tracks and platforms are just a few metres below the ground level of Parc Angrignon. The length of the station, however, is exposed in a grassy cutting that allows the walls of the platforms to be opened up to natural daylight with large windows that reach from the level of the benches up and over to the chunky concrete structure that sits over the tracks. There are other stations which illuminate short stretches of the platforms with sunlight, but nowhere is it so extensive as at Angrignon. In the winter, a near-permanent covering of snow increases the reflectivity of this cutting, and the station becomes one of the brightest on the network. In the grimey post-thaw spring morning that I visited, however, the grassy banks are brown and tired. Months worth of litter that had been concealed under snow and ice has been revealed, and a homeless man is collected beer bottles from around the station to reclaim the deposits.

A couple of trees have been planted in the green spaces beside the tracks, but they're not looking their best right now. I need to come back later in the year when things have picked up.

The materials employed in the platform spaces aren't particularly memorable - smooth square clay tiles on the floor and the usual poured concrete providing an unfinished surface to contrast in the structure. The windows are framed with faded red/orange frames. The impression is of a station that feels dirty, probably because of all the bright sunshine that shows off every speck of dust and every lump of detritus.

Upstairs, in the ground level ticket hall, things start to make much more sense. The same materials are here, but the glazing has been allowed to take over. A forest of square-plan concrete columns creates support nine parallel barrel vaults of roof lights of varying lengths over the ticket hall. Again, the red/orange glazing frames and the orange clad back offices to the ticket kiosks seem faded, but you're not likely to notice in this delightfully bright space. A different atmosphere no doubt comes across when it's twenty below and the wind is whipping through the swing doors. There were no noticeable pressure problems in this station - on each platform are three enormous circular grills mounted in cut tubular sections that provide a point of direct exit and entrance for fresh air.

There are bright orange benches, a small dép kiosk and the usual métro station clutter of payphones and free newspaper stands. But also a lot of people, even on a quiet Sunday afternoon. A large bus interchange to the north-west of the station hall has been expanded in the last few years, somewhat unsympathetically with the architecture of the station, but in a way that successfully shelters passengers and provides more space for connecting buses.

Ascending from the platforms to the ticket hall, passing through the gates and then on the same line out through the doors to Parc Angrignon, you begin to understand the successful design strategy of this station. Walking along the line of the tracks, it's just a few minutes until you are in a park that was modelled at the same time as the station was built. Small lakes sit either side of the tracks below (which continue on from the station and round into the Angrignon depot, concealed from the park by a large incline to the north-west). A temporary park sign advises of thin ice: it's a little late for that, now that it's all melted, but it's good to know someone's looking out for me.

After a turn through the park, I return to the station, and go back to the platforms. A blackbird has found it's way down into the station, and is fluttering from one platform to the other. A turning train pulls in, and I get on board near the front of the train. In the wall of the Honoré-Beaugrand end of the outbound platform is a large circular window, which opens into a small control office (there's a driver restroom in roughly the same spot on the other side). Have a look through as you depart, and give yourself five points if you can identify the piece of movie memorbilia that is hanging on the wall inside this office; ten points if you know the film and connection to the Montréal métro.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Line 5: Acadie

Welcome back to a decade that you probably thought you had left behind. With a lively post-modernist style that is reminiscent of a nineteen-eighties era nightclub, Acadie is one of the most stylishly distinctive stations in the Montréal metro. It’s also one of the least used, so enjoy the relative peace and quiet in this electro-pop fantasy station.

To fully appreciate the coherence of the platform and overall station design, notice how the architects have established a rhythm of forms that run at forty-five degrees to the direction of the tracks. The basic determinant of the shape and scale of an underground station is the usually train itself: it’s a big long thin thing. Therefore more stations emphasise their length as part of the overall design, through the use, for example, of horizontal bands of materials and colours. Here at Acadie, however, from the tiles on the floor to the light fittings above the platforms, the architectural rhythm of the station has been set at a diagonal to the tracks.

On the floor are black and red embossed tiles, laid at this basic 45 degree angle to the platform edge. Above the platforms the same angle and colour is reflected in the lighting. Standard strip lighting units are used, but again twisted through 45 degrees. Bright red panels hang to reflect the light and to create a pattern that breaks up the length of the station.

The red re-appears in the chunky circular section tubes used to support the benches (designed by Michel Morelli). The benches themselves are formed out of the same material as the walls of the platforms: smooth black marble that alternates between polished and unpolished blocks. It’s a really coherently designed pair of platforms: smooth, sharp and high-contrast. The only exception to this fine finish can be found under the ticket mezzanine, which sits above the tracks. Here the rough poured concrete that forms the underside of the structure has been punctuated by rough recesses into which light fittings have been installed.

The angled rhythm continues with the steps from the platform up to the ticket mezzanine, which is directly above the tracks. The steps are split into two flights, with a half landing between the tracks and the ticket hall. The square-plan ticket hall is almost a cube in its overall dimensions, and again, is set at forty-five degrees to the direction of the tracks below. On the platform side of the ticket gates this contrast of angles creates a pointed balcony that looks down onto the tracks. Stand here and look down to the tracks, and you’ll see that to emphasise the intermediate space aside from the ticket hall and above the tracks through which you are lookeing, the deep grooved walls that form the walls of the main ticket hall volume don’t meet in the corner, and the space opens into a smaller and darker cubic space, with a mysterious pair of unused service balconies opposite. The rhythm of squares and ninety degree angles continues above the ticket hall in the deep ceiling coffers formed by the poured concrete beams that support the street above. The application of an architectural rhythm to the design and spatial organisation of the whole station is impressive. It’s one of the satisfying examples of a public building that reveals its character and organisation over a period of time to the regular visitor, and as such is one the modern classics of the Montréal metro.

Passing through the ticket gates into the ‘public’ side of the ticket hall, we find a striking piece of practical public post-modernist art: a combined bench and clock by the artists Jean-François Jacques and Pierre-Marc Pelletier. Set on a large square of dark grey marble instead of the blue tiles found elsewhere in the station, the motif of the clock is expressed in the position of two stainless steel benches. The circle of the clock face they describe is a thin strip of stainless steel set into the marble. The benches are even fixed at slightly different heights off the ground, like the hands of a clock, as if they are capable of moving with the time. They don’t incidentally, which is a bit of a shame, since it would transform this sympathetic piece of station furniture into an interesting form of dynamic art, and would provide an interesting way of having an unexpected liaison with the stranger sitting next to you on the other bench at the top of each hour. The clock face is an out-scaled take of the face of a watch, and recalls the classic modernist clocks that appeared in European railway stations in the early twentieth century. At the time of writing, it wasn’t working, but it’s still an entertaining piece of practical sculpture that in a station designed for large volumes of people passing through, provides for those who are not. A romantic rendezvous could not take place on a more appropriate station bench.

At the time of writing the small kiosk opposite the ticket booth is unoccupied and available for rent: a demonstration of the stark fact that this station is not supported by the number of passengers it is capable of handling.

Take the escalators up to the street underpass level, and follow the exit to Boulevard Acadie to take a look at how the rhythm of the station continues. This passage way connects the two street level entrance pavilions, and in many other stations a similar corridor would be finished with very little attention to the overall scheme. But notice how the contrasting colours of floor tiles, different ceiling heights, deep ceiling beams, recessed light fittings and stainless steel wall panels have been used to turn an ordinary underpass into an exciting space. Unusual balustrades frame the views down onto the ticket hall and tracks below. On one side of the escalator void and in the passageway to the Acadie exit are life sized images of people walking, leaping and falling by the artist Jean Mercier. These smooth surfaces are an invitation for graffiti, and it’s just a shame that the graffiti at Acadie isn’t up to much – lame half hearted tagging that doesn’t contribute anything.

Above ground are the two entrance pavilions: these don’t seem to continue or convey the architectural excitement of the station underground and are rather faded examples of post-modernist whimsy. A small park is formed around one, but otherwise there is very little to tie these entrances into the suburban landscape in which they sit.

Line 5: De Castelnau

Welcome to De Castelnau station, which is, in my humble opinion, one the absolute gems of the Montréal metro. After the train on which you arrived has departed, take a moment just to stand on the platform, and to take in this beautifully balanced and composed space.

We’re in Little Italy, so the materials chosen are highly reminiscent of the soft colours found in the vernacular architecture of the Italian peninsular. The bricks are the first material we notice – a light clay that has been fired to produced this exact texture and colour. Marble highlights the balustrading to the escalators, and two shades of brown paving tiles indicate the flow of passengers from the platforms to the steps and escalators, simultaneously breaking up the orthogonal form of the platform surfaces. Altogether, it’s one of the subtlest but most successful combinations of materials in any metro station in Montréal, and it’s the real reason this is such a satisfying space.

The architectural vocabulary of the station comes across as permanent and solid. Look at the wall above the mouth of the tunnel in the direction of Snowdon. There is a thick curved band of concrete that strengthens the distinctive section form of the tunnel, and by continuing the same bricks from the platform and atrium walls right up to the top of the space, we become aware of the proportions of the station’s atrium.

Even the benches are in keeping: beautifully proportioned solid pieces, crafted in wood and varnished. Although petty vandalism, tagging and general wear and tear has been extensive, these benches still look good, and are a remarkable testament to how well wood can age in comparison with plastic. Think of some of the graffiti-ed plastic benches or seats that are around the metro. Plastic is not a material that ages well. Here, however, these wooden benches have softened and worn comfortably with time. If you want to see what they looked like when they were new, then just take a look beyond the semi-permanent barriers that shorten the public length of the platform: there are some unused and untouched benches just beyond, patiently waiting for the day when full length trains run on the blue line.

Both transitional spaces from the platforms to the ticket hall are large, continuing the ceiling level of the ticket hall over the platform level threshold of the escalators and steps. However, it’s the void over the stairs down to the Saint-Michel platform that is the most exciting. If you’re not already there, pass over to that side, and if you’re coming from the other platform, be sure to pause at the top of the escalators before descending. Almost hanging in the space above the platform annex is the incredible concrete form of the stairs from the street level entrance. If you enter from the street at this point you don’t really take much notice of the steps – it is the occasional vertiginous view down to the platforms that catches your eye. However from here we can see what a treat these stairs really are. The actual stepped form of the staircase above is reflected in the underside, and inexpensive strip lights are nicely fitted into the coffers. What I really love about these stairs is the really legible way in which they demonstrate their structure. You might not believe it, but those small steel joints between the concrete of the stairs and the concrete beams that fly out from the walls are really taking the load of the stairs. The forms are all in proportion: concrete might be one of the densest and heaviest materials used here, but the elegance of the execution just makes this a real cherry on the cake. Notice also how the columns to the platform sides of the escalators frame views of the platforms and of people moving up or down on the escalators.

Since de Castelnau remains a fairly quiet station, it’s not unusual for two trains to leave and for you to find yourself alone. When someone does disturb your solitude, you’re treated to glimpses of their descent from above through the ‘frames’ made by the structure.

This station seems to me to be a very successful evocation of Italian architecture. Although it’s a real cliché to refer to modern architecture being reminiscent of cathedrals, I’m going to fall into it here and say that the architectural feel of de Castelnau station is very similar to that in a Renaissance-period chapel or church. The finish and detailing is of course very different, but despite being a station through which trains rumble, it’s a remarkably calm and sensual space.

Line 5: Fabre

As your train pulls into Fabre station, you know pretty quickly that you’re not going to get this one confused with any other on the network. The artistic contribution of Jean-Noël Poliquin to the station design by the architects Bédard and Averna has been fantastically well integrated into the overall scheme: it’s bright, fun, logical and modular for ease of pre-fabrication and construction. The stainless steel handrail that is both a functional feature and an artistic extravagance is distinctive, witty and clever: it’s just a shame it wasn’t able to be integrated with the advertising and assistance panels, or even made into a continuous unit with the handrails of the staircases to the mezzanines.

Along with the other stations at this end of the blue line, Fabre opened in June 1986, and the remarkable steel panels that line the platforms have aged extremely well. Look around, and you’ll notice that the modular panels have been finished in a broad but considered palette of colours, with purple and pink focussing towards the Fabre exit, and with green and blue panels at towards the Papineau exit. Notice also how the cream circular panels which feature a semi-circular abstract relief pattern also become more frequent towards the steps, where the panels switch to narrower blue units which run up alongside the steps to the mezzanine levels.

The platforms themselves feature a cream coloured type of floor tile. Although this is evidently difficult to keep clean in this busy station, it has an exceptional effect on the lighting of the station. Compare Fabre to the two adjacent stations at Jean-Talon and Fabre, and you’ll realise how greatly a lighter colour of flooring material can affect the overall feel of a station. The standard Métro lighting strip that hangs over the platform shines bright light down to the floor and out to the coloured wall panels. The floor bounces and diffuses much of this light upwards, and as a result creates a bright and subconsciously safer feeling station. The only downside is that is does rather expose the poor state of the concrete roof above the tracks.

Head towards the Fabre exit, and you’ll be confronted with another unsympathetic conversion to unmanned operation. But once you’ve passed through the gates, notice the triangular coffered ceiling. These pre-cast concrete units would have been made off site and then brought individually to the station during construction. Notice how their shape dictates a skewed step as they rise with the escalator. At the top of these steps is an attractive and dynamic glazed entrance pavilion.

Cross the street or returned via the platforms to the other the street level entrance at Papineau, which is slightly larger and more imposing on a busier intersection. A ventilation shaft is incorporated into the design, along with a small shop that opens into the foyer. The coloured panels from the platform level also appear here, and continue from inside the foyer onto the wall outside. The street level space has an intriguing little bridge over the escalator that links the two sides of the foyer, finished with smoked glass and stainless steel ballustrading. It’s not entirely necessary, since the escalator doesn’t cut off a huge amount of space, but it does provide two additional functions. It’s a good place to stand and wait for someone who’s coming out of the metro, but it also neatly frames the view that descending passengers have as they get on the escalator. After passing under the bridge, the space above the escalator suddenly opens out you get to see the imposing ventilation openings in the side of the escalator space. The same triangular coffered ceiling units as found at the Fabre end of the station appear here. Some are ‘open’ and some are ‘closed’ on an apparently random pattern.

The flooring material used on the street side of the ticket barriers is a pattern of large dark stone slabs. These intersect with the much smaller white platform tiles around the ticket barrier, where a large S figure indicates the transition from platform space to foyer space. There’s another chunky detail above the steps from the Papineau mezzanine level down to the platforms, where the poured concrete walls are seemingly cut back in sharp tectonic forms. This attractive opening out of the station void isn’t without it’s problems. The convex mirror for the driver of Saint-Michel bound trains is suspended from an amusing set of steel poles that reach down from the ceiling of the mezzanine level down to the platform. A platform based support might have been easier, but it was obviously not as elegant.

Fabre is a great station, which derives much of it’s joy and spatial success to the evidently close and successful working relationship between the artist and architect who collaborated on the project. It’s a pleasure to use, and has a distinctive character all of its own.

Line 5: D'Iberville

Also opened in June 1986, D’Iberville station was designed by the architect Eddy Tardiff, who also produced the station’s single artwork, a striking sculpture that hangs above the tracks at one end of the station.

The principal material you’ll notice on the station platforms are the standard sized bricks which are layed vertically alongside the platforms themselves, and then laid horizontally elsewhere. Interspersed along the length of the platform walls are stainless steel strips running from the floor to the black station name panel – I’m not quite sure what these achieve or contribute to the design, because they only seem to lessen the attractive forms of the vertically laid bricks. Compare these with the metal strips interspersed in the brick platform walls of Mont-Royal station on the orange line to see how they might have been included more subtly. The only real splash of colour can be found in the bright red benches. The gently curved tunnel roof is of the usual poured concrete with drainage channels attached. Along with the tiled floor and stone steps, it’s a sombre but quite attractive combination for this quiet station.

The station is arranged with the platforms directly below Jean-Talon street above, with two exits at D’Iberville street and Louis-Hébert street at the Snowdon and Saint-Michel ends respectively. Of the two however, only the rue Louis-Hébert exit is staffed.

From the platform, follow the signs towards rue D’Iberville and the secondary exit from the station. The arrangement of the bridge over the tracks at this end means you don’t notice the station’s gorgeous aluminium sculpture by Eddy Tardiff until you’re either right underneath the bridge or passing over it. The poured concrete roof of the station tunnel appears to stop and turn vertically upwards at this point, framed with the same brick that lines the platform walls. The sculpture is actually hanging on a wall mounted with brown steel strips, but which provide a contrast with the colour and texture of the brick walls on either side.

The steps from the Snowdown platform are recessed into a small apse, which is topped with a curved poured concrete roof, much like that over the tracks. From here you can climb onto the bridge and take a closer look not only at the sculpture but also the subterranean space of the D’Iberville exit. The tragedy of this station is that when faced with the financial decision to close one of the two ticket booths, and make one end of the station unmanned, the STM seemed to choose the wrong end, at least in terms of architectural quality. Comparing the two entrances to this station, it soon becomes apparent that this is far and away the better atrium space, and it’s insensitive conversion to automated barriers has scarred the beautifully simple space with a white fence that completely destroys the coherence and visual appeal of the volume.

However, we can only assume that statistics and proximity to bus lines influenced the decision, which leaves this gorgeous space and sparkling sculpture largely unnoticed by the greater number of passengers who use the station. The space is more or less cubic in form, with only the skewed edge of the bridge and the security barriers breaking the orthogonal arrangement of the space. Pass through the intimidating barriers and you’ll come into the more spacious side of the ticket hall. Notice how the brick finish to the walls continues almost to the top of the space, and then the unfinished concrete continues as far as the concrete roof of the space. Deep poured concrete beams support the pavement above, and the spaces between open up above the escalator to reveal the modest station entrance at street level. You can choose to exit here and walk back to the other station entrance at rue Louis-Hébert but once you’ve seen the street level entrance, I recommend you go back down again and experience the space again, this time as you descend the escalator from above.

The Louis-Hébert entrance is nothing particularly special in comparison, and with the ticket barriers at street level in a much smaller space, could have been much more easily and sympathetically converted to unmanned operation than the D’Iberville exit. However, note as your descend the escalators at this end how the curved roof above the mezzanine above the tracks kinks upwards and follows the direction of the escalator before twisting up into a vertical face. It’s a subtle but neat way of transitioning from the more open space of the street level pavilion to the lower and shallower space of the mezzanine above the tracks. Note how that because the railways tracks descend away from the station towards Fabre, you can stand here and see Saint-Michel direction trains approaching.

D’Iberville is a quiet backwater on the network, and the architecture seems to match this rather appropriately. It’s just a real shame that the finer of the two station entrances has been altered for unmanned operation without much sympathy to an incredibly strong architectural form. In doing so, a fine piece of art is losing it’s audience – many have to go to the manned entrance to exit or enter the station, and those that do enter at D’Iberville don’t notice it because it’s obscured until you pass through the full height ticket barrier, by which time most passengers are more focussed on getting to their platform. If this is the first time you’ve seen it, however, I hope you’ve enjoyed discovering this under appreciated gem of a station.

Line 5: Saint-Michel

Opened in June 1986, and designed by the architectural firm of Lemoyne and Associates, the station of Saint-Michel was not initially intended to be the eastern terminus of the blue line. However, as explained in the introduction to this tour, various practical and financial reasons conspired against the full realisation of the line, leaving it unlikely to ever operate at the capacity it was capable of handing. The hopefully temporary operation of this station as a terminus is, however, quite successful.

As with other stations on the line, inbound trains stop on the southern of the two platforms. At off-peak hours, the shortened three carriage trains stop immediately adjacent to the steps up to the bridge. After all passengers have disembarked, the train continues into the dead end tunnel (where you’ll usually see spare trains parked). The train passes over a switching junction, the driver moves to the other end of the train, before returning on the other track.

The platforms of Saint-Michel are unusual on this line for one particular reason. As mentioned in the introduction, trains never run at more than six carriages length, and more often than not run with only three. However, unlike other stations which have been built and finished for nine car trains, with glass barriers to close off the unused parts of the platform, the western (outbound) end of Saint-Michel’s platforms has been left unfinished. Look beyond the end of the platforms at the western end and you’ll see the bare concrete from the initial construction works. A control room and staff room has been built in this part of the outbound platform. If the line is ever extended, and trains ever run at their full length, this section of the station will be finished and opened to passengers. Note also the signals above the end of the Snowdon end of the platform. The LED display indicates the current time, the train number in red, and the countdown to the scheduled departure.

The station uses a consistent and bright palette of materials from the platforms up the street level. The square bricks of the walls have been partnered with a lighter mortar to emphasise the pattern that they make, and the platform itself has been finished with an attractive mosaic of light grey, dark grey, blue and yellow tiles. You’ll see that shade of blue (albeit less faded) in other parts of the station.

There are just two steps from the platform to the bridge and mezzanine level: these are made of a tough granite, and it’s behind the stainless steel handrail here that we see the rough poured concrete of the structural columns that support the roof of the subterranean atrium over the tracks and escalators. Note also the glass bricks, which are used on the platforms in front of the station’s four platform murals, and which appear here between the two columns. You’ll see more of them the closer you get to ground level.

The steps from the platform to the bridge and mezzanine level have are in two flights. Pause at the mid-point of these steps and notice the attractive way in which the bricks have been laid to form curved corners to the atrium space. On the inbound platform you’ll see a stainless steel panel in the middle of this corner just below eye level. Want to know what it is?

Turn round and look the same spot on the steps of the other platform. You’ll see the standard white on black metro line summary to indicate the order of stations from that platform. Since this is the terminus platform, there are no more stations. However, the station was designed ready for an eastwards extension of the line: perhaps one day this blank panel will be replaced with a line diagram that lists the names of new stations east of this point.

If you move onto the bridge over the tracks, you can begin to appreciate this station’s finest feature – the remarkably simple arrangement of the escalators which rise at ninety degrees to and directly above the tracks. Two escalators and a stair descend from street level to the ticket hall, and then the same arrangement is reversed alongside the first, bringing passengers down to the bridge. Note how the escalators are arranged to bring passengers down directly to the westbound Snowdon platform, and that inbound passengers from Snowdon must first cross the bridge to reach the escalators. This is an intelligent decision that allows a steady flow of descending passengers to be able to reach their Snowdon train more quickly, and to give the more sudden influx of exiting passengers more space on the bridge between the platform and the escalator. Even with the un-built extension to the east, this would still be the most logical arrangement of the space, since it will always be the Snowdon (and therefore downtown) direction trains that receive more passengers entering the station from the street.

While we’re on the platform, have a look up. The ticket hall above is supported by deep poured concrete beams – certainly not the most expressive or chunkiest on the network, but nonetheless an attractive and legible expression of how the level above is supported. But the real eye-catchers here are the astonishing pseudo-industrial light features that illuminate the steps from the bridge down the platforms. To be honest, I think they’re totally unsuited to this station, with it’s elegant combination of brick and concrete. The design is hard to grasp, and they appear to me to be visually too heavy for the space. A more minimalist approach to the lighting of the station would have probably created a much more spatially coherent geel. We don’t see that blue grill motif elsewhere until some of the wall mounted light fittings in the ticket hall, but even so it doesn’t feel as they belong here.

There’s an attractive curve in the wall opposite the bottom of the escalators up to the ticket hall: the occasional touches of blue that we first see in the platform tiles re-appears here on these doors to service spaces.

Before ascending to the ticket hall, have a look at the underside of the escalators above and to the right. The real strength of this space is the way in which the escalators and stairs are so cleanly expressed as they rise at right angles to the tracks. Such a simple arrangement of the station’s key circulatory elements makes for an exceptionally easy to navigate space.

Take the escalators up to the ticket hall. The same materials are used here as in the rest of the station, and the curve in the wall on the bridge level is taken even further here, with the curve in the windows of the kiosk turning into a gently undulating wall that continues along the tunnel to the further of the two station exits. Notice here how two types of lighting are used to good effect – on the left hand wall we see a small version of the blue grilled light features at the top of granite strips in the wall. Opposite, downward facing lights in the ceiling illuminate the sinuous curves of the wall.

There are two pavilions providing access to the street. The larger of the two is above the ticket hall, and is constructed principally in concrete up to about three metres, and brick above that. The glass blocks we first saw on the platform are used extensively both at street level and in the clerestory that brings light into the foyer. The integration of seating into this space has been handled attractively, and the triangular form of the corner site has been used to create a saw tooth façade. Go outside and peer through the glass blocks, and you can occasionally glimpse distant figures on the escalators or bridge far below.

Across the street, the second pavilion repeats the language of the larger one, but uses the stepped façade to form raised flower beds.

As your return to the platforms, take a look at the four murals behind the walls of glass blocks on the platforms. The inbound platform feature two by Lauréat Marois and Normand Moffat, the Snowdon platform features works by Charles Lemay and Marcelin Cardinal. The abstract murals of Marois and Moffat seem less successful than the figurative ones opposites, possibly because it’s easier for the eye to recognise the human and animal figures through the glass blocks on the Snowdon murals.

Overall, Snowdon is an attractive station, although I can’t bring myself to like the lighting in the main void over the escalators. Elsewhere, however, the palette of materials and the way in which they’ve been used is consistent and attractive, bringing passengers from the solid heavy materials of the platform level to the lighter and more open translucent space of the street level pavilions.