Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
FoyerCulturelPDA in Montreal, Canada by MSDL Architectes
April 24th, 2012 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Msdl Architectes
Since its opening in 1963, Montreal’s Place des Arts has been the centre of cultural and artistic life in the city. Its location relative to Place d’Armes in the historical district consciously established a strong axis for commercial and cultural development in the city. Including the original Wilfrid-Pelletier concert hall, Place des Arts now regroups five performing arts venues (six with the projected OSM concert hall) and a museum all linked by an interior hall and an exterior esplanade. It annually plays host to some of the city’s biggest international cultural events and constitutes the heart of the recent Quartier des Spectacles development meant to firmly establish the metropolis as an international centre for the performing arts.
ACTUAL CONDITION AND THE HALL DES PAS PERDUS
While the many transformations of Place des Arts over its first 45 years have largely benefited the cultural complex, they have also created problems. The construction of the peripheral buildings disrupted the street presence and identity of the place. On the interior, the Hall des pas perdus, a commercial looking atrium connecting the venues with the surrounding buildings and the metro, has no strong cultural identity. The Hall has suffered from an almost pathological accumulation of information and materials that coexist disharmoniously, cannibalizing themselves and creating a most cacophonic and unmemorable space.
The current project first aims at re-establishing the identity of Place des Arts as a major cultural centre with a strong street presence. Second, it calls for the complete redesign and rethinking of the Hall into a Grand Foyer Culturel, a coherent, animated and memorable space. Apart from redefining the entrances to the complex and to the different venues, the program includes a relocated ticket and information office, new performance space for public events, a bistro and an exhibition space.
The project is structured on an unfolding connective plane integrating identity, multimedia and signage that links the various programmatic elements. Drawing on established Place des Arts graphics and architecture, the gesture acts as Ariane’s thread, weaving through the entire Foyer to create a space that is coherent, legible, and in tune with the identity of the place. The overall scheme is punctuated by thresholds that mark the transition between interior and exterior, Foyer and event space. At these moments, the plane unfolds to encompass floors, walls and ceilings with specific lighting and AV conditions to create immersive sensory passages.
The intervention opens up on Ste-Catherine street in a new iconic marquee whose outreaching shape is based on a porte-voix. The marquee intentionally contrasts the existing architecture of the place in an attempt to ground (and distinguish) the project in a language that is both contemporary and organically derived from site specific conditions (movement and sight lines). The integration of multimedia and architecture reinforces the status of this threshold as Place des Arts’ primary street address.
The accessible roof of the marquee, in continuation with the esplanade, can be appropriated as a perchoir, in line with the historical axis of the place and offering great views of either the complex itself or of the various festival stages. In order to lighten the interior space, two major skylights are introduced to the scheme. The first marks the threshold under the marquee while the other one, emerging from the existing water basin, marks the heart of the Foyer and its main performance space. Primarily designed in section, these two openings work in concert to allow people from within to have direct sight lines and references to their exterior surroundings.
In order for the project to achieve the level of clarity and coherence necessary for a cultural place of this magnitude, the interior of the Foyer is stripped down of superfluous information and materials. This is achieved first by limiting the amount of different materials found in the project and second by an intelligent use of multimedia and signage in concentrating information. By this process of calming and concentration, the connective plane is brought to the forefront and effectively choreographs the Grand Foyer Culturel.
Place des Arts, opened in 1963, is considered Montreal’s cultural and artistic heart. It is home to various performing arts venues and host to some of the city’s largest festivals. The project for the Grand Foyer Culturel recognizes inherent problems with the actual condition of the complex and seeks to re-establish Place des Arts’ identity and place as an internationally renowned and emblematic centre for the performing arts.
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Category: Cultural Center