Plans to convert disused Paris Metro stations into swimming pools and galleries unveiled

News: a swimming pool, a theatre and a restaurant are among designs by French studios Oxo Architectes and Laisné Associés to renovate abandoned Metro stations in Paris (+ slideshow).

Plans to convert disused Paris Metro stations into swimming pools and galleries unveiled
Arsenal Metro station converted into an art gallery

Manal Rachdi of Oxo Architects and and Nicolas Laisné of Laisné Associés were commissioned by Paris mayoral candidate Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet to develop possibilities for renovating the disused spaces into places where Parisians can go to eat, dance, watch a play or even exercise.

Plans to convert disused Paris Metro stations into swimming pools and galleries unveiled
Arsenal Metro station converted into a nightclub

"Why can't Paris take advantage of its underground potential and invent new functions for these abandoned places?" Rachdi asked. "Far from their original purpose, more than a century after the opening of Paris' underground network, these places could show they're still able to offer new urban experiments"

Plans to convert disused Paris Metro stations into swimming pools and galleries unveiled
Arsenal Metro station converted into a swimming pool

These designs illustrate how Arsenal station, a disused stop near the Bastille that was closed in 1939 at the start of the Second World War and never reopened, could potentially be transformed into a swimming pool, theatre and concert hall, nightclub, art gallery or even refectory-style restaurant.

Plans to convert disused Paris Metro stations into swimming pools and galleries unveiled
Arsenal Metro station converted into a park

"To swim in the metro seems like a crazy dream, but it could soon come true," said Rachdi. "Turning a former Metro station into a swimming-pool or a gymnasium could be a way to compensate for the lack of sports and leisure facilities in some areas."

Another solution included an underground park, which would require a series of skylights to be built into the station's roof to provide natural light.

Plans to convert disused Paris Metro stations into swimming pools and galleries unveiled
Arsenal Metro station converted into a theatre and concert hall

The plans have been criticised for their huge cost and the safety issues involved in converting stations that still have live electricity running through them. Jean-Michel Leblanc, of France's state-owned public transportation operator RATP told Le Parisien that it would be extremely difficult to make these stations safe for public use.

If Kosciusko-Morizet wins the election on March 30 this year, she plans on crowdsourcing other ideas for repurposing Paris's abandoned stations.

Plans to convert disused Paris Metro stations into swimming pools and galleries unveiled
Arsenal Metro station converted into a restaurant

There are 16 disused Metro stations in Paris, most of which closed between 1930-1970. A small number were also built but never opened. Previously the stations have been used as temporary sets for advertising campaigns and films. Porte-des-Lilas, a disused station closed in 1935, was used as a backdrop in 2001 film Amélie.