Sustainable public plaza enriches Montreal’s Quartier des Spectacles

Completion of the last phase of the redevelopment of the district Quartier des Spectacles in Montreal has introduced the Esplanade Tranquille as part of a sustainability-focused transformation of the public places in the west pole.

Located at a nerve centre of the city core, at the junction of Saint-Laurent Boulevard and Sainte-Catherine Street, the esplanade supports a varied program of shows and activities and provides a place of relaxation and entertainment all year round. Following the Quartier des Spectacles development plan, the esplanade includes a linear service building perpendicular to Sainte-Catherine Street that borders a public square.

This public square hosts shows during the summer festivals and turns into a refrigerated ice rink as soon as the first cold weather arrives. To facilitate these transformations, public furniture including chairs, tables, umbrellas, braziers, planting bins, service kiosks, fences, stage, and mobile games are stored in the basement to be deployed as needed.

The integration of the esplanade into the Quartier des Spectacles project was done by implementing the materials and elements of urban furniture characteristic of the previous phases already completed. White prefabricated concrete, grey granite paving, floor lamps, white aluminum cladding panels, and red colour accents contribute to marking the belonging of the project to the neighbourhood.

The volume of the linear building has been segmented into three spaces, separated by terraces and largely fenestrated, and analogous to the inhabited shop windows lining the Place des Festivals. These three boxes, located upstairs and containing public relaxation areas, have a solid wood structure evoking the reassuring and warm atmosphere of a chalet, while overlooking the ice rink and the public space.

The choice of a wooden frame also comes from a desire to include sustainable materials. The energy required for the ice rink and the building is supplied by a network of geothermal wells, and all heat released by the pumps of the refrigeration system is recovered. Further, the roofs are covered with a garden roof producing herbs and vegetables that are used by the restaurateur.

The ground floor has completely retractable glass walls to open onto the esplanade in summer. Thus, the restaurant can be extended on the terrace in the public space, and the skate rental room is transformed into a pop-up type business to contribute to the vitality of the place throughout the year.

A large warehouse in the basement allows the storage of all the urban furniture and equipment used to hold various events in the Quartier des Spectacles. Two freight elevators and a closed landing stage facilitate the logistics of this permanent transformation process.

The project is the result of multidisciplinary work co-ordinated by the architect, Les architectes FABG, involving the general contractor, TEQ inc.; mechanical/electrical engineer, WSP; civil/structural engineer, WSP; refrigeration engineer; petropoulos, Bomis et Associés; interior designer, Zébulon Perron; landscape architect, Fauteux et Associés; and public outdoor furniture designer, ALTO Design and Dikini.

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