Montréal Metro: L’assomption

By Andrew Bailey

Following on from last week’s stop at Côte Sainte Catherine, we now find ourselves at another impressive station: L’assomption. Situated on the green line in the largely francophone quartiers of east Montréal, the station is a stones throw from the much maligned 1976 Olympic complex. L’assomption is an earlier example of brutalist architecture, having been opened in the same year as the aforementioned Olympics: the design of the station still packs an impressive punch on the wow-factor scale, despite now being 35 years old.

The station has one entrance, situated on the southbound side of Boulevard de L’assomption. The edifice is of a fairly plain box construction, with the stairs down to the passageway situated in the middle of the space. However, this wouldn’t be Montréal without a dash of creativity and, dare I say it, madness. In one of the sidewalls of the building are four different evenly spaced trapezoidal murals, created by artist Guy Montpetit, depicting bizarre brightly coloured forms. I can only describe these organic forms as somewhere between half animal and half plant, playful yet disconcerting at the same time. Each design has something equating to a pair of eyes, creating the feeling of being watched by creatures that could well be from another planet. There are four windows in the opposite side of the wall reflecting the trapezoidal shape of the four murals: perhaps these alienesque murals crash landed from space and found a home here?

Having gone down the stairs, the traveller is confronted by a corridor lined with more of these odd life forms that have now joined together to form Meccano like chains; descending into this station definitely feels like a journey into another world.

At the end of the corridor, the traveller boards the escalator to descend into a vast concrete cavern. At the bottom of this cavern, the traveller can find the ticket office and turnstiles on a mezzanine suspended above the platform and tracks. The colourful forms now seem to have disappeared, but closer inspection reveals that their now giant outlines have evolved and are literally stamped into the walls of the concrete cavern. This is a very impressive space, with the overwhelmingly bare concrete construction and it’s imprinted design instilling a futuristic yet sinister feeling. The concrete has had more time to age and succumb to water leaks here than at Côte Sainte Catherine, transporting the traveller to a desolate, post-apocalyptic future.

Lighting is provided by lines of fluorescent tubes embedded into the concrete ceiling, lines which radiate out from the corner of the ticket office and follow the curve of the space, directing the traveller further down into the station, exaggerating the feeling of distance between the world of the metro, and the “real world” back outside.

Overall, L’assomption is a very 70’s look into a fantasy future that may or may not exist, a space designed to shock and fascinate the traveller with foreign life forms and bewilderingly large dimensions.

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