Retired Montreal Metro cars turn into Project MR-63

Project MR-63

Retired Montreal Metro Cars  – The idea was ambitious at first, but Frédéric and Étienne Morin-Bordeleau had a vision to reuse retired Montreal metro cars that are being replaced by the new Azur models. The brothers and entrepreneurs came up with the proposal in 2016 and have now have partnered with the Sud-Ouest borough to build an art exhibition space and café with the old cars. They call it Project MR-63.

A pilot project this summer will see four of the cars integrated into a space near the Lachine Canal. It will have a temporary art gallery, snack counter, recording studio, design showcase and will also host concerts, conferences and public events – all towards a larger, permanent community space involving the transformation of eight of the cars into a multi-level sculpture functioning as an art gallery, community space and cafe/bar featuring local products and vendors.

“This project is a four-month test of what our mission could look like in a permanent space, and what it’s like to have a coffee in a metro car while the sunshine is pouring down,” they said.

On their website they write, ‘To achieve its ambitions, MR-63 is building an architectural icon aimed at becoming an essential monument in the Montreal landscape. The three-storey culture complex built in 2020 will give the city’s metro cars a second life and redefine the standards for sustainable development.’

Their vision is to give visitors ‘a constantly renewed experience around three themes: art, design, and gastronomy – through the gastronomical counter on the first floor, the diffusion spaces of the upper floors and the outdoor area, all entirely dedicated to discovering Montreal’s emerging talents’.

The initiative first had to meet certain criteria including heritage value, sustainability and feasibility. It also had to include a plan to weatherproof the cars, which were designed for underground use. One of the cars they were given to work with has so far proven to be unexpectedly weather resistant.

“The top needs to be sealed so no rainwater comes in, but neither the sun that radiates on the fiberglass nor the rain damages the metro train,” Frederic said.

Mayor Valerie Plante, who was at the news conference supported the project and praised the initiative said, “Let’s not forget those metro wagons, when the metro was opened, it totally changed how Montreal was perceived around the world.”

After 50 years of wear and tear the MR-63 metro cars will enjoy a well-deserved retirement – and will not be forgotten. The final project is expected to open in 2020.

The official website says permanently closed.

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