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Metro Arts and Architecture

Metro Arts and Architecture

Subways need not be boring or dreary! Many operators of metros, subways or underground railways want to attract more passengers with good station design. This often means extra effort and higher costs for the metro operators but it seems to pay when a metro is more than just a means of transport but something the residents can be proud of. Read below which metro systems double as the world's longest art galleries and in which cities you can see stunning underground palaces, museums, aquariums, an ancient chapel, or the world's first example of computer-generated architecture – or simply user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing underground stations.

Works of art or sophisticated architecture can be delightful, inspiring and thought-provoking for day-to-day commuters as well as an attraction for visitors. There's also evidence that vandalism diminishes in appealing stations because works of art and good designs are widely respected. Many subway systems tend to be filthy and rather dull from an aesthetic point of view (though even those systems may have a handful of stations that are quite okay). On the other hand, there are cities that explicitly foster arts and/or good architecture in subways. The photos in the list below are examples from those cities. The list includes:
Subway systems consistently planned to have user-friendly and good looking architecture, consequently with most stations looking similar (examples: Bilbao, Washington).
Lines with unique and interesting stations by different architects (examples: Hongkong Airport Line, London Jubilee Line extension, Tokyo Oedo Line).
Stations of standardized architecture but with distinct interior designs of good quality (examples: Munich, Prague).
The most spectacular metros in former socialist countries, originally designed as 'palaces for the people' using valuable materials (examples: Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Tashkent).
Metros with noteworthy collections of public art in the stations (examples: Brussels, Montreal, Stockholm). So here's the selection of about 40 remarkable metro systems, which is about one quarter of all existing metro systems. More information can be obtained through the external links in each city section below. Current candidates to possibly being added to the list (more information required): Kharkov, Seoul, Yerewan, Yekaterinburg. Do you know of other cities which should be added? Then send me an email please: .
Last update to this page: 21 August 2006.

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