Projects

Metro Porte de Versailles - Paris (France)

Embracing history and culture

THE PORTE DE VERSAILLES METRO STATION IN PARIS HAS BEEN RENOVATED TO MARK THE CENTENARY OF ITS OPENING
Author
Santino Limonta
Photos
Matteo Serri
Architect
Saguez&Partners
Didier Bernard - RATP
Surfaces
LEA
Distributor
Pedrazzini
Year of completion
2010

In 1887, Jean-Baptiste Berlier submitted a project for “subterranean tubes for trams” crossing Paris in an east-west direction based on the model of the London underground. The project was unexpectedly approved in 1901, but with one major difference: the direction was to be north-south. Work began in 1905 and the “Nord-Sud” metro was opened in 1910. What was then line A now corresponds to a section of the current line 12 with Porte de Versailles as the departure station. To mark the centenary of Nord-Sud, the present-day Île-de-France public transport operator RATP decided to renovate the station in cooperation with the Paris event management company Viparis. RATP has long been pursuing a cultural policy in which stations are envisaged as extensions of the areas in which they are located, reserving for them a special artistic or architectural treatment. For its part, Viparis wanted to improve the reception given to visitors to the Paris Expo passing through the Porte de Versailles station, which has a direct connection to the exhibition centre. In the jointly prepared brief, the four competing agencies were asked to give the station a unique atmosphere and strong cultural characteristics so as to promote psychological assimilation on the part of habitual travellers and to surprise occasional users. The winning project submitted by Saguez & Partners involved two levels of intervention: one technical, in accordance with the existing heritage, guaranteeing the suitability of the systems and materials used, in particular those for the vault structures dating from 1930; the other immaterial, providing a learning and entertainment opportunity for waiting passengers. Porte de Versailles is emblematic of the first identifying style of the Paris metro, the “Nord-Sud” style inspired by Art Nouveau with its bevelled tiles, green shades and stylised plant-motif frames. The renovation project retained these elements, integrating them into a contemporary setting. Murals are used to portray stylised everyday situations in which a figure in the distinctive “Nord-Sud” green colour is shown alongside his “passion” (dog, car, etc.), depicted in “Paris Expo” red. The scenes are reproduced on the walls on tile-like printed metal sheets in alternating small and large sizes to create attractively cadenced signage that accompanies travellers towards the exits. Another key element in the overall design consists of the three spectacular giant suspensions that simulate holes in the vault, creating the impression of being able to see outside. Specially created for this station, they are in fact three sophisticated technological installations that screen videos and art films using a 360° technique. The furnishings were renovated by replacing the old seats with more modern red versions, and the benches were refurbished in a contemporary vein. The remodelling operation also involved repaving much of the corridors and access stairs to the station with large-format porcelain tiles from Lea Ceramiche’s Basaltina Stone Project collection.

Tiles
Lea Ceramiche, Basaltina Stone Project
Type
porcelain stoneware
Sizes
30x60 cm
Colours
Stuccata
Technical characteristics
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): E ≤ 0,04%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): UHA, ULA
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): ≤ 145mm3
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): conforme
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): conforme
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): > 50 N/mm2
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R10
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): conforme
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): conforme
Certifications and awards
ECOLABEL
LEED
EMAS
ISO 14001
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