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This Jules Verne-inspired station takes you to the parallel universe of artist François Schuiten.
This submarine décor plunges visitors deep inside mysterious machinery from a faraway past or unknown future. Platforms at this unique Line 11 station were redesigned in 1994 for the bicentenary of the National Conservatory of Arts and Trades (CNAM) by Belgian artist François Schuiten, who together with Benoît Peeters created the famous Cities of the Fantastic comic book series.
The 800 studded copper panels covering the walls are reminiscent of the Nautilus, the vessel in Jules Verne’s classic novels 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1869) and The Mysterious Island (1874). Everything, from furnishings, station signs to garbage cans were created specifically for the station. A panel of gears, pulleys, and cogs on the vaulted ceiling look like a machine from the Museum of Arts and Crafts lowering itself onto the tracks. Eleven brass-framed portholes positioned along the platform contain miniature exhibits of old and new contraptions appearing in the museum’s collections, including the Gilchrist-Thomas converter (invented in 1877 to make steel), a water turbine, and an Intelsat satellite.
It’s said that Captain Nero walks the station at night, hoping to regain command of the Nautilus. All aboard!
François Schuiten, born in Brussels in 1956, is a comic strip artist and scenographer. He published his first story at the age of 16 in the magazine Pilote. In 1977, with his older brother Luc Schuiten, he began publishing stories in Métal hurlant, a French comic strip anthology (“Aux Médianes de Cymbiola” in 1977, and “Le Rail”, or “Railroad” in 1981, sealing his fate as a metro designer one day). Also in 1981, Schuiten teamed up with scriptwriter Benoît Peeters for the first of nine volumes in the Cities of the Fantastic series – “The Great Walls of Samaris”, heavily inspired by Art Nouveau – published in A suivre magazine. The series won several awards, including the Grand Prize in the manga category at the 2013 Japan Media Arts Festival.
François Schuiten has also designed several sets, including the scenography of A Planet of Visions, a monumental exhibition at the Hannover World’s Fair in 2000 seen by 5 million visitors.
He is also the author of urban installations and scenography, including Porte de Hal station on the Brussels metro, Arts et Métiers station in Paris, the Jules Verne museum in Amiens, and Autrique House, designed by the great Art Nouveau artist Victor Horta in 1893, now open to the public for exhibitions.