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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
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.


December 5th, 2013 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: ARCHITECTURAMA

Artist workshops and layout

Regular visitors of the Symposium of Contemporary Art of Baie-Saint-Paul, ARCHITECTURAMA conducted in 2010 a conceptual study demonstrating the potential for improving the physical layout of the event located in the municipal arena. Summarizing the deficiencies and opportunities, the study was made on a voluntary basis. In 2011, the study was used by the museum to apply for subsidy. A mandate to carry out the project for the 30th anniversary edition followed.

Image Courtesy © James Brittain Photography

  • Architects: ARCHITECTURAMA
  • Location: BAIE-SAINT-PAUL, Canada
  • Photography: James Brittain Photography, MACBSP / Gabriel Lajournade
  • Typology: Exhibition and workshop
  • Year designed: 2010-2012
  • Year built: 2012
  • Client: Musée d’art contemporain de Baie-Saint-Paul
  • Structural engineer: Laro Experts-Conseil, Louis Larouche ingénieur
  • Architectural carpentry: Les Ateliers la Cire-Constance
  • Foam funiture: Nordesco inc.
  • Steel plates: Mécanique Marius Gagné inc.
  • Cardboard boxes: Norampac
  • Software used: Autocad, SketchUp and Infographic softwares

Image Courtesy © James Brittain Photography


The International Symposium of Contemporary Art of Baie-Saint-Paul is an artistic event that enjoys international recognition and which is focused on present-time visual art forms. It is a recurring activity organized by the Musée d’art contemporain de Baie-Saint-Paul. The Symposium’s format fosters encounters between artists and visitors. It provides the public with an opportunity to get up close to the artist, thus enjoying a live visual art creation event and observing a range of current trends in the visual arts. It has become a must in the world of visual arts, locally as well as internationally.

Image Courtesy © James Brittain Photography


The proposed project takes into account the two realities that coexist, the artists who work there daily and the visitors. The concept’s interventions can be grouped under three categories:

Organisation of space

Interior public spaces are functionally and perceptually similar to the outdoor public spaces: the city’s streets and squares. The main elements that define these spaces are: closing and opening, dimensions, axes, symmetry, rhythm, the hierarchy and focal points.


  • Establish a space hierarchy by using only a part of the ice rink and by aggregating the functions to create a suitable density.
  • Create a set public space, proportionate and readable by placing the workshops and other spaces along a single movement axis in which the centre widens to form a square.
  • Develop a perspective that begins at the welcoming desk with its focal point towards the coffee and the arena’s garage door, the only presence of natural light.

Image Courtesy © James Brittain Photography


Architectural space is created by the interaction between objects or more or less explicit boundaries. Objects have to shine to define the zone around them. This area is variable, depending on the dimensions of the object and the context in which it is located. Thus, the limits of the different spaces of the symposium are more or less real or suggested and are defined by their phenomena of perception.


  • Create a transitional element, marking the entry by monumental lettering.
  • Define and differentiate a central square.
  • Provide the café a direct contact with the outside and a comfortable spatial density.
  • Provide for each artist a well-defined space and a flexible relationship with the public and the other artists.

Image Courtesy © James Brittain Photography


Comfort is an important part of the layout experience. The proposed activities and the desired animation need to be adequately supported by the physical facilities. These interventions encourage people to extend their visit and come more than once.


  • Improving the artists’ workshops by allowing their configuration to be adapted to each artist’s work and personality.
  • Better defined and intimate spaces allow more comfortable and gentle interaction with visitors.
  • Improving the lighting, an aspect of great importance for artists.
  • Support related functions with appropriate facilities, such that the welcoming and conference areas and the public creation space.
  • Creating rest areas in the central space and café using rolled carpet and boxes which can serve as a bench or table, allowing visitors to install themselves at their convenience.

Image Courtesy © James Brittain Photography


Workshops consist of a modular wooden panel system, designed to be assembled and disassembled quickly with basic tools by the museum team.

The use of common and economic materials such as the timber studs, masonite, bolts and nuts, assembled in a rudimentary way, allowed a non-specialized fabrication and a costs reduction.
The panels will be reused each year and assembled in different ways to meet any specific need. The masonite cover can easily be replaced if necessary. The panels can be repainted.

Image Courtesy © James Brittain Photography

An «electrified» panel in each workshop will have the electrical outlets for the artists and for the lighting. This panel is equipped with an electric plug that allows plugging directly in new outlets installed in the arena ceiling. The symposium staff can connect themselves without using to the services of an electrician which represents a significant long term savings for the event.

Basic lighting is provided for each workshop that can be controlled individually (1 tube or 2 functional tubes per apparatus), including a quantity of lamps with claws that can be easily moved are provided for specific lighting.

For the coffee area, two types of boxes have been used: EVA foam type (resistant foam, hydrophobic, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammable) for those on the ground which is used as furniture and blue retardant cardboard for those that are suspended.

Image Courtesy © James Brittain Photography


The majority of elements were made by Baie-St-Paul’s «L’atelier la Cire-constance», a non-profit organisation which has a «rehabilitation through labour» program. Their involvement was essential and is an integral part of the project’s development.

Collaboration with the immediate environment from the start and throughout the process has been successful, each person being greatly interested in contributing to this important event for their city.
Virtually all equipment have been manufactured or purchased locally.

Image Courtesy © James Brittain Photography


The Symposium had a deflective layout and an image problem. The new layout allowed a major change in perception and appreciation. The atmosphere in the arena is completely different. Media covering of the event have welcomed the major renewal and the positive contribution of the project.

The recurrent costs are significantly reduced by the reuse of the elements and the fact that an electrician is no longer required for installation.

By repositioning the Symposium as a dynamic, professional and high quality event, and in the context of an ever-greater cultural offer, the project has contributed to ensure its sustainability and its development for the benefit of the whole community.

Image Courtesy © James Brittain Photography


Building on their experience in institutional projects, residential projects, and architectural competitions, Sylvain Bilodeau and Nicolas Mathieu-Tremblay bring forward, from conception to realisation, a practice showcasing rigor, integrity, and personality.

They are interested in the way public spaces and buildings are occupied, and the issues of physical and psychological comfort. Their concepts and research revolve around the perceptual qualities of architecture- a concern that is not limited to visual perception but considers other senses as well.

Image Courtesy © James Brittain Photography

Considerate of the impact of the constructions they design, Bilodeau and Mathieu-Tremblay also integrate sustainable and bioclimatic notions in all their projects with a preference for low-tech simple solutions.

Their recent project for the International Symposium of Contemporary Art of Baie-Saint-Paul, was finalist in Prix d’excellence 2013 of Ordre des architectes du Québec, FacteurD competition, Grand Prix du Design 2012 and Cecobois wood design 2013. It was also awarded at the Grand Prix du tourisme québécois.

Image Courtesy © MACBSP / Gabriel Lajournade




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