Architecture Monday

There’s something that I quite like about this train station in Dinan, France.  Built in 1879, it’s got this interesting mix of old school form, art deco-ish ornament, and some clean lines of modernism, all wrapped up into one.  And check out that rotated clock tower – you don’t see that very often!  Complete with ornamental bas-relief bells and a spare but bold design of the clock itself.

The delight continues inside too… check out that serious corbelling of the ceiling in the corners, at the base of which is a light?  Now that’s neat.  And the classic map along the upper band, with art-deco touches beneath.

I learned of this station through an adjacent new welcoming platform which is in of itself interesting.  A wood lattice canopy “supported” at one end by two earthen forms (one conical, one more amorphous) that recalls the medieval construction the region is known for.   Also with bonus trees that grow up and through the canopy above…

What a glorious assemblage!  Old and new, in many senses of the words, brought together to serve the rails.

La Garre de Dinan, old station designed by Georges-Robert Lefort and new canopy by Fouquet Architecture Urbanisme.

Architecture Monday

I think by now people know I love trains, and that I equally love many train stations (another nod here to one of my favs, in Ottawa).  And as sad as it is when a train station is no longer in use, it’s ok in my book when it’s converted so wickedly as is this one in Brussels!

Good old school and lofty train stations are already such wonderful spaces, and what’s been done here is to leave most of it well enough alone, inserting independent multi-level pavilions to create offices, retail, entertainment, and more.  These also create a network of streets that lead to large public gardens that just fit wonderfully under the soaring roofs.  Crafted of wood, the whole thing is a welcoming space indeed.

Adaptive reuse, FSC-certified cross-laminated timber, water capture, natural ventilation, and PV panels integrated onto the grand front windows, AND an exciting space to be in… what’s there not to love about this?  Great stuff.

Gare Maritime by Neutelings Riedijk Architects + Bureau Bouwtechniek

Snowy Rails Thursday

In the mood for a little bit of train porn this evening?  Then this video is perfect, a serene transfer run, starting in the lowlands and moving upwards into the mountain and snow….

And while the whole video is great, this segment here is the climax, in a wonderful mix of sun, bold clouds, icy lakes, white mountains, and snow blowing across the tracks all during a high speed run with the soothing monotony of the engine.  Lovely.

Wonder Wednesday

As a bit of a rail fan, taking the Oslo to Bergen railway during my visit to Norway was a definite highlight.  We didn’t go all the way to Bergen, shunting off at Myrdal to take the even more famous Flåm railway line, one of the steepest regular rail lines in the world, dropping 866m over about 20km in length.  As you might expect, it is a visually stunning rail line, nestled in the mountains and full of gorges and rivers and waterfalls.  We traveled during the late summer and it was gorgeous, and I imagined it would be absolutely stunning to also see in the snow.

And now I know!  Here’s a cab-forward view of the line, taking the route from the bottom to the top, in full, 4k glory, filmed by one of the operators:

And if that’s not enough, her channel has a multitude of videos from all along the Oslo to Bergen line, in all seasons, including a continuous stream (but not live) to leave on in the background and ‘look out the window’ at every now and again, while chatting with fellow rail enthusiasts.  Lovely!

Architecture Monday

Some eye candy tonight of a very nice adaptive reuse from Montreal!  This one’s filled with delicious contrasts and intersections:  rugged brickwork with slick and smooth walls, deep tones with vibrant colours, old materials kissing new ones, deep windows with flush lighting, and some great shadow play.  As a bonus, this is an old railway station….

Lightspeed Offices by ACDF Architecture

Architecture Monday

Not trains tonight, but a Metro station in Paris, and one that marvelously connects neighbourhoods, not only via the subway but by an expressive bridge that both crosses and provides access to the Saint-Denis canal.  Oh, and it’s by my darlings, BIG Architects…

There’s a rather straightforwardness to the basic idea.  You’ve got a subway and you want to bring light down to the platform so you extrude up a large glass-topped atrium.  Now, like a giant paperclip, wrap a path around that atrium to touch both the distant and nearby shores.  And just like that, you’ve got a sensual form that invites and provides an easy and fun path to the station and to the water’s edges.  The bridge is meant to be more than just easy conveyance – following the city’s long history of bridges as social spaces, the bridge is extra wide and incorporates seating into its sculptural structure.

From there, the bridge spirals downward to create the sunlit atrium, with a cascade of escalators taking travelers down towards the Metro tracks.

There’s a certain simplicity of idea happening here that I like.  It’s very straightforward, a form derived directly from circulation and the ideas of connecting the adjacent boroughs.  That same straightforwardness is nonetheless delivered in a very playful and expressive manner, one that enhances the public space around the canal and very much the Metro station below.  Even if you don’t stop here, riding the Metro into the station will be an experience as you emerge from the tunnel into the luminous hall.  It’s not just infrastructure that has been reduced to its most brutal form; it’s infrastructure that honours the public space we all inhabit.  It takes a need and fulfills it in splendid ways.

The Pont De Bondy Metro Station by BIG Architects.