The idea of a steampunk train isn’t exactly new. Indeed, as the Industrial Revolution demonstrated, the concept was a good one that revolutionised transportation. But what about a steampunk station? Is there such a thing in the real world, or are such places confined to works of retro-futuristic art?
Enter the Paris Métro, a subterranean rapid transit system boasting a network of curiosities beyond its famously abandoned ghost stations. For here, at Arts et Métiers station, the busy Line 11 platform has been transformed into a steampunk paradise worthy of Jules Verne and H. G. Wells.
The platforms of Line 11 plunge commuters into the heart of a copper-clad world, where a set of wheels emerging from the roof hint at an alternate reality above. Designed by Belgian comics artist François Schuiten to mark the bicentenary of the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers in 1994, the project came about through a partnership between the Musée des Arts et Métiers (Museum of Arts and Crafts), which is served by the station, and the Paris transit authority.
The station at Arts et Métiers offers a bridge between the outside world and the museum, a science fiction-inspired portal to a repository of amazing inventions and historic scientific instruments. Meanwhile, its steampunk styling creates an alternative take on art in underground spaces. (Explore Paris’ eerie ‘ghost stations’.)