Former Montreal Metro cars have been transformed into a “discovery space” in Griffintown

Former Montreal Metro cars have been transformed into a “discovery space” in Griffintown

The project, which includes eight cars, was co-founded by Etienne and Frédéric Morin Bordeleau, who say they remember riding the Montreal Metro as children.

“We thought of this project when STM announced that it would change the metro trains,” Frédéric explains. “We asked ourselves what we could do with these metro trains to make them an iconic place in Montreal.”

This text is a translationArticle from CTV News.

The MR-63 Montréal is just one of many projects following a call for proposals launched by STM in 2016 when it replaced the original fleet with new AZUR trains.

Of the 313 cars withdrawn from service, STM indicated that 20 of them were donated to various projects.

The project is being built on William Dow Square, near Ottawa and Bell streets.

“It all started with a dream, a crazy project of two brothers, and it became our life and our link with the city,” explains Etienne. “Make something of value for the neighbourhood, for Montreal, to celebrate our culture, to celebrate what we love, and what we think is important for the future.”

The two brothers explain that when they started thinking about the project, they wanted to create something that combined their experiences in the fields of art and cooking.

“We thought about installing the trains to create a distinctive building that would attract attention and people, and which would create a new space for Griffintown,” explains Frederic.

He explains that the ground floor will include a local café, in addition to a bar and restaurants.

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The basement, first and second floors will be dedicated to discovery and organizing events, with a digital hall.

The goal is to make it a 100% local cultural and gastronomic center, offering “a cultural renaissance that brings together residents, transients and foreign visitors in a celebration of Montreal culture.”

“We combined everything that was unique about Montreal,” Frédéric said. “We are a UNESCO City of Design, so we really wanted to have amazing architecture on the outside and inside.”

They add that another important element of the design is durability.

“We are a testbed for a lot of different technologies,” explains Frédéric, noting that they are working with the Botanical Garden and the Société des Alcohols de Quebec (SAQ). “they [la SAQ] They have a lot of excess glass, and they make a powder out of that glass, and they put it in concrete to reduce the carbon footprint of that concrete.

He notes that in addition to creating a carbon-neutral building, the brothers want to raise awareness about climate change.

“It's not just about saying, 'Oh, look at this perfect building' in terms of carbon neutrality, but it's also about mobilizing and raising awareness…about the importance of sustainability,” Frédéric said.

Another challenge they set themselves? The offer changes every season.

“Every three months there will be a new vendor. “A new café will come, a new small roaster, and it will change every time,” Frédéric explains. “Just like in museums, there is a new theme every season, but for us, the whole program will change.” , including café and bar offerings.”

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The Morans-Bordeleau family acknowledge that this is an important commitment, but they say they are prepared to take it on.

“That's what makes the space more unique than a building built with subway cars,” Frederic said. “Our mission is to highlight as many people as possible who work in the creative industries. So having just one vendor goes against that goal.

The non-profit project is being implemented in collaboration with all levels of government, as well as the Montreal Tourism Board and other organizations.

“You have to show a lot of passion. We've seen ups and downs in construction over the last 10 years,” Mr. Etienne said. “It's really because we're passionate. We think this is important and we have fun in the end. We think this is important and we need to move the project forward. We have to finish it.”

Construction work has already begun on the site, which is valued at $28.8 million.

MR-63 Montreal is expected to open in the fall of 2025.

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