U2 studio arch 304
 Winter 2010
Pieter Sijpkes' Section.

Links to two pages of images about glass and steel construction detail
taken in Vancouver and shown in class recently: set one, set two

In this term we will  take  on two challenges: 
The first challenge will be to study Montreal's Indoor City, list the weaknesses and strenghths and come up with proposals to remedy some of the weaknesses, foremost among them lack of daylight and lack of truly public space.
We will scout for a location within the downton area where a public, daylit indoor pavilion might form a vibrant link between the 'outdoor world' and the 'indoor world'. Every student will propose an individual solution and will keep an 'underground note book' that will record the research efforts made over the course of this term.

This project will take about half the term

The second challenge will be to take part in the annual Steel Structures Education Foundation's competition.
The topic this year is 'Curvature', and the pavilion proposed in the first half of the term as an addition to Montreal's Indoor City in the first challenge may be a good basis for a succesful submission to the SSEF competition.
This project will take place during the latter half of the term and students will work in teams of two.

Challenge no 1.

Let the sun shine in!

The feasibility and design of a daylit public indoor park that would form a public focus for of Montreal's Indoor City:
An indoor Square St. Louis , and indoor McGill Campus, and indoor Domion Square

The power of natural light: The Pantheon in Rome only being lit though an 8 meter oculus in the top of the dome.

Time Magazine (page-2) article about Vincent Ponte 'the multi-level man' who designed Place Ville Marie


The 'indoor/underground' part of Montreal has been gaining in importance ever since the beginning of the system was inaugurated in 1962 with the opening of Place Ville Marie's enclosed shopping mall. And it was not the mall itself that was the key issue: the two subterranean links constructed under Dorchester Boulevard (now Boulevard Rene Levesque) beteen Place Ville Marie and Central Station were the key innovations. These links were so 'subversive' that the decision to build them can be called the second most important urban planning decision ever taken in Montreal. The first one was to found Montreal on the spit of land formed by the St. Pierre river's oblique outflow into the St. Larence river in 1642.
That settlement was called Ville Marie, so we can say that Montreal was founded twice, Ville Marie in 1642 and Place Ville Marie in 1960.  (It should be mentioned here that the opportunity to build Place Ville Marie at the scale it was done was due to a previous underground experiment: the construction of the train line under the Mountain, linking downtonw with the vast area north of the Mountain. The big scar left in the downtown core by this project and the nature of Central station's below ground tracks and concourse prepared the scene for Place Ville Marie)

The 'scar' crossing underneath Rene Levesque           Geology of the Mountain following the tunnel in section

Ville Marie in 1648
Indoor City with Place Ville Marie as original generator

mapping the Growth of the Indoor City 1962-1989

The indoor City is most interesting in section !

Christ Church on new  foundation piles
Christ Church on new foundation piles

A multistory public garden in Zurich- an interesting experiment with 'alternate realities'


The demise of a famous 8 million dollar 'Public Indoor Graden' by a famour architect.. why?

Here are some recent statistics:
A very good introduction to the Montreal Underground that I used as the basis for my lecture on the underground city last term:



"Arcades" J. F Geist (a very important work about 'indoor space'
in french:
in english

"The malling of America" William Kowinski

"The Death and Life of Great American Cities" Jane Jacobs
"The Image of the City" Kevin Lynch

and links:

undergound city guidelines












Indoor public/private issues:

Issues :
*The feeling of 'being underground: claustrophobia"
*the lack of landmarks and the inability to see the sun,  and resulting difficulty of orientation.
*the invisibility of the system at street level
*the hundreds of different doors between different segments; different air pressures make doors hard to operate
*handicapped unfriendly: http://tram.mcgill.ca/Research/Publications/Inddor_city_accessible.pdf
*legally the indoor environment is a confusing patchwork of  mainly private spaces, under private control. (The Metro is under non-private jurisdiction and so are the tunnels)
*the lack of truly  public space

*a safe, pedestrians-only environment not paid by tax money
*increase in commercial retail space downtown
*absence of snow and road curbs makes spaces navigable by  wheelchairs and other wheeled  movement aids
*the system encourages the use of the Metro

This week research groups:

This afternoon we will visit Place Ville Marie, Central Station, Place Bonaventure, Windsor Station and the IBM building.

Wednesday afternoon: a long field trip through the rest of the underground system is planned; we will look at  early and later areas in the system, different design approaches, details, environmental qualities etc.
We will also look at possible locations for an indoor public garden element in the system
Bring camera and note books! We'll start in the studio at 1.30

During and after the Monday and Wednesday field trip we will make a list of  research topics that can be tackled by  students as an introduction of our design project.


literature on underground construction- technological challenges
private-public issues in the indoor/underground

A exciting example of how to  announce above ground that something is happeing below ground! :

link to apple-blog

Links: below links to two  webpages that describe what was discussed in class: The first one briefly discusses the various typed of curvature in lines and planes, and the second webpage gives examples of structural use of curves throughout history.