asides: Très Chic Trams / Gold Standard Metros

A couple of beautiful transport tidbits to alert you to. The latest issue of the always interesting Mobility magazine (issue 22) has a great article on some fantastically well-styled trams in Tours, France (see pages 116-120), the look and feel of which has been designed by a creative collective led by artist Daniel Buren. The trams feature mirror-finish bodies, stripes over the doors which line up with matching stripes on platforms acting as a clever aid to ensure passengers know in advance where the doors will be, LED lighting which changes colour according to the season, and a variety of unusual seating options on board. Well, it had to be France if it was going to be a stylish tram. Elsewhere, Mobility #22 explores the tram as art in Aubergne, and the way the design of Champagne’s trams reflects its local culture (see pages 123-127).

While the French really get the idea that transport has a cultural impact on its users and surroundings, Mobility editor Lesley Brown contrasts this with the “nothing fancy” yellow livery worn by the trams (which are very much of the plonky school of styling) in Manchester, UK. The managing director of that system tells the magazine that the livery is “aesthetically pleasing and attractive, it carries our brand values.” Well, the former is a matter of opinion, and if you agree with Mobility‘s assessment that the livery is “basic, bold, and primary” then I suppose it does reflect the brand values of a system which is a bit on the basic side when it comes to high quality design, cultural impact, and integration with the urban fabric. But modern UK tram systems are nearly always plug ugly throughout, so nothing new there.

Make up your own mind on whether the French are right to consider the artistic merits of a tram system when they build it, or whether the none-of-your-art-and-culture-for-us-we’re-British approach is better, here: Mobility #22.

Meanwhile, Passenger Transport magazine‘s latest issue ran a story about the recently-unveiled glorious design for a new metro station in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on its off-beat stories page (shame on you!). From the ever-fertile mind of Zaha Hadid (architect of the Riverside Museum of Transport in Glasgow, covered here a few weeks back), the King Abdullah Financial District Metro station is configured, says Zaha Hadid Architects, as a “three-dimensional lattice defined by a sequence of opposing sine-waves (generated from the repetition and frequency variation of station’s daily traffic flows).” Internally, Passenger Transport tells me that the King Abdullah Financial District Metro station’s walls will be gold-plated and the floors made of marble. It’ll be like some 21st Century reinterpretation of the Moscow Metro then. It should open in 2017, and full details are here and here. I can’t resist a couple of lovely images to close with, so here we go:

Design for King Abdullah Financial District metro station: exterior. Via News page at Zaha Hadid Architects website, here
Design for King Abdullah Financial District metro station: exterior. Zaha Hadid Architects. Via News page at Zaha Hadid Architects website, here
Design for King Abdullah Financial District metro station: interior. Via News page at Zaha Hadid Architects website, here
Design for King Abdullah Financial District metro station: interior. Zaha Hadid Architects. Via News page at Zaha Hadid Architects website, here

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