Architects: Briére, Gilbert + Associés
Location: Québec, Canada
Project Team: Émile Gilbert (Architect), Martin Brière (Architect), Melinda Hart (Architect)
Associates in Charge: Émile Gilbert, Architect, Martin Brière, Architect
Project Year: 2011
Project Area: 550 sqm
Photographs: Guy Tessier & Christian Perreault
The existing heritage building was built in 1851 and housed, until 1970, a private boy’s school. Between 1970 and recently, the building was used as St-Thimothée city hall until it was sold to CRÉVHSL. In between 1851 and the day the CRÉVHSL acquired the building, many renovations had been done to the existing building leaving it in a terrible state. The director of the CRÉVHSL is both passionate of the preservation of historical buildings and contemporary architecture.
The CRÉVHSL project is a testimony of the firm’s philosophy and its ability to carry out relevant and innovative concepts. It also demonstrate the firms aptitude to achieve projects whose aspirations, values and quality are deeply linked to a sense of belonging and to the importance of place and history that emerges.
The CRÉVHSL project is defined in two parts:
1.) The refurbishment of the existing building which accommodates several offices and the main reception;
2.) A contemporary extension to the rear, where the new board room and the employee’s cafeteria is located.
The refurbishment included mainly interior renovation and restoring to the original states the existing exterior doors and windows, and repairing the masonry and the roof. These improvements are visible from the street front. The extension highlights the views on the site and the St Lawrence River.
Three conceptual gestures helped to achieve these goals successfully. First, the off-axis footprint, from the existing building of the extension, allows visual openings towards the river from both the new and existing building. It also opens up a maximum amount of land to the rear, between the building and the St. Lawrence River.
Secondly, the “suspended” wooden volume, which wraps the new board room, provides an adequate response to the massive stone volume of the existing building. The suspended volume liberates physical and visual connections following the natural slope of the ground, to the St Lawrence River. Inside the board room, the suspended effect of the wooden volume is enhanced by the presence of three apparent reversed timber trusses.
Thirdly, the integration of two atriums creates open spaces to accentuate the suspended wooden volume from the inside and opens views towards the river and site from the new and existing building.
The project includes sustainable development measures. The use of apparent wood structure and of eastern Quebec cedar for the exterior siding aims to enhance this natural resource of Québec. In addition, the project uses geothermal energy for heating, air conditioning, linked to heat recovery.