Montreal Botanical Garden Entrance Pavilion, Modern Québec building, Canadian Architecture

Botanical Garden Entrance Pavilion in Montreal

3 June 2024

Architects: Pelletier de Fontenay

Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Botanical Garden Entrance Pavilion Montreal

Photos by James Brittain

Montreal Botanical Garden Entrance Pavilion, Québec

Montreal based studio, Pelletier de Fontenay, presents the new Botanical Garden Entrance Pavilion. In conjunction with the metamorphosis of the Montreal Insectarium and the transformation of the entrance to Parc Maisonneuve, this project offers a redesigned and modernized access hub for this emblematic site. The new pavilion welcomes visitors, facilitates ticket sales, and provides information on the Botanical Garden and Insectarium. It also includes a smaller, separate check-in kiosk.

Montreal Botanical Garden Entrance Pavilion

Developed in collaboration with a team of landscape architects from the City of Montreal’s Urban Parks Division, and the firm Lemay, the vision serves to link the world of Maisonneuve Park to the front court of the newly completed Insectarium. The project’s main challenge was to better orient and guide visitors towards the Insectarium and Botanical Garden, while respecting the cultural heritage of the site.

Botanical Garden Entrance Pavilion Montreal

In studying the long history of park and garden pavilions, Pelletier de Fontenay’s team focused on the notion of the ruin as a bearer for several ideas that resonate with modern-day issues. A recurring theme in 18th and 19th century English gardens, the image of the overgrown ruin is deeply rooted in the romantic movement, which asserts the superiority of untamed nature, the imperfect, the sublime, and the overall nostalgia of a lost natural world. Architectural structures, once colonized by vegetation and other forms of life, propose a symbiosis between the built and the living world, a productive relationship in which architecture becomes a literal support for life.

Montreal Botanical Garden Entrance Pavilion

Much like a romantic ruin invaded by plants, the Montreal Botanical Garden’s Entrance Pavilion stands as a hybrid figure where architecture and nature meet. Humbled to its pavilion scale, the building, once fully covered by vines planted at its base, will become an infrastructure welcoming insects, birds, and small animals.

Botanical Garden Entrance Pavilion Montreal Botanical Garden Entrance Pavilion Montreal

Visible from both Parc Maisonneuve and the Insectarium, the new reception pavilion is strategically positioned at the inflection point of the approach route. Its triangular plan is designed both to create a focal point in the landscape and to manage the flow of traffic: one enters on one side and exits through the other, in a natural pathway towards the entrance to the Botanical Gardens and the Insectarium. At the base of the volume, the triangle’s corners form the pillars which support a wide, square-shaped roof. The interaction of the two geometries produces generous roof overhangs, offering protection from sun and weather. The entrance and exit areas become sheltered meeting points, or places to queue up during busy hours.

Montreal Botanical Garden Entrance Pavilion Canada

The large roof, which extends from interior to exterior, supports the notion of landscape continuity. As soon as spring temperatures permit, and until mid-autumn, the pavilion’s large sliding doors can remain open, eliminating the boundaries between inside and out.

The ability of the building to open wide to the landscape is fundamental to Pelletier de Fontenay’s approach to this project. Visitors can feel the wind and heat, hear the birds, and smell the nearby forest while they plan their visit, obtain tickets at the digital terminals, or get information at the counter. From a bioclimatic standpoint, being in tune with the weather also means that for a good part of the year there is no need for heating or air conditioning.

Montreal Botanical Garden Entrance Pavilion Canada

The assembly and superimposition of two simple shapes – the triangle and the square – confer a primitive quality on the overall structure. Far from emphasizing its construction, the pavilion’s tectonics are completely sublimated in favor of a single-material skin that covers all surfaces homogeneously.

Montreal Botanical Garden Entrance Pavilion

This skin is made entirely of expanded Corten steel, except for the vertical interior faces, where the steel is left smooth. The project goes against the idea of architecture as assemblage, as a mere technical expression. Instead, constructive articulations make way for a more monolithic, enigmatic, archaic representation. Conceptually, visitors might well get the impression that the structure pre-dates the garden that now surrounds it.

Montreal Botanical Garden Entrance Pavilion Montreal Botanical Garden Entrance Pavilion

The use of Corten steel supports the idea of a structure worn and weathered with time. The expanded structure of the sheets provides an ideal support surface for vining plants, and the size of the openings is calibrated to allow them to navigate on either side of the skin, entering the architectural cavity in some places only to emerge higher up. As the Corten steel cladding gradually oxidizes and the structure is colonized by climbing plants, the pavilion’s appearance will evolve over time, evoking a ruin gradually overtaken by nature, and thereby entering a symbiotic relationship with it.

Montreal Botanical Garden Entrance Pavilion, Canada – Building Information

Architecture: Pelletier de Fontenay –

Project name: Botanical Garden Entrance Pavilion
Location: Montréal, Québec
Opening date: 24 novembre 2023
Client: Ville de Montréal

Landscape architecture: Lemay
Civil, structure, mechanical engineering: EXP

Photography: James Brittain

Montreal Botanical Garden Entrance Pavilion Canada Montreal Botanical Garden Entrance Pavilion Canada

About Pelletier de Fontenay
Pelletier de Fontenay is a Montreal-based architectural studio, founded in 2010 by Hubert Pelletier and Yves de Fontenay. The studio has a strong design focus and is currently developing a series of public projects, including museums, schools, cultural centers, and libraries. The studio is also engaged in the design of private residences, housing, pavilions, exhibitions, and urban planning. This variety of project type and scale fosters the exploration of a wide range of ideas, typologies, and building approaches.

Rather than developing a specific style or a predefined formal language, the studio’s approach is based on the principle that different conditions produce different expressions. Projects are conceived by postponing the vision of a finished product for as long as possible, placing instead trust in the creative process as the generator of architecture that is ideally always distinctive.

Montreal Botanical Garden Entrance Pavilion Canada

Designs are developed by navigating the tension between the internal and external forces of the project. On the one hand, the studio approaches architecture as an autonomous system and works with typological and historical models and references. On the other hand, there is the conviction that project specificities are always generative. The negotiation between these two perspectives produces architectural objects that are rigorous, but always contextual.

This feedback loop between top-down conceptual logics and bottom-up emergent forces produces what we describe as relational objects: an architecture that forms intricate bonds to its site and program, while retaining an unmitigated conceptual coherence.

Botanical Garden Entrance Pavilion Montreal

Photographer: James Brittain

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Montreal Botanical Garden Entrance Pavilion, Canada images / information received 030624 from v2com newswire

Location: Saint-Eustache, Montréal, Quebec, Canada, North America.

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