The project is the winning entry in a Québec wide architectural competition held in the fall of 2008. The new main library for the municipality of St-Hubert is situated at the northwest entrance to the Parc de la Cité, the city’s principal civic park covering 50 hectares of land. Straddling city and park, the library acts simultaneously as a gateway pavilion, an institutional building, a civic structure and a cultural centre. The library thus plays an important role in the cultural and civic life of the community. It is conceived to provide designated areas for young families, children, day-care and school groups as well as for adolescents, adults, and retirees.
It provides a platform not only for learning but also for vital intergenerational exchanges within the community. Its program offers traditional library services, access and dissemination of new technologies as well as a wide range of public activities including a café-press and multipurpose exhibition room.
Context: Since the beginning of the 20th century, St-Hubert’s built environment and cultural heritage has been intimately linked to Québec’s aeronautic industry. Due to its geographic location, St-Hubert benefits from unique meteorological conditions resulting in a remarkable potential for wind energy. The architecture of the new library is sculpted in response to this force of nature, poetically materializing and celebrating the presence the wind while technically seeking to take advantage of this resource for its bioclimatic strategy. Delicately sited between protected wetlands and a red maple forest, the new library explores an essential link with St-Hubert’s most important natural environment. The architecture of the library metamorphoses the forest and harvests the forces of nature. As such the library is conceived as an interface between nature and culture.
The flying carpet: Beyond the formal allegory of the flying carpet, the architectural concept is foremost an elementary bioclimatic response to the site’s conditions. Its geometry speaks of the renewable natural resources of the earth: the wind, the sun and the rain. From west to east its roofs cape bends under the prevailing winds. The giant cut at its centre collects the rainwater in a retention basin while the wood blades of its filigree envelope filter the sunlight. The façade composition of wood louvers, inclined according to the sun path, highlight the constructional the nature of the filigree assembly, its spatial and aerial qualities.
The programmatic elements are organised in a single continuous movement that unfolds from the public place to the forest, delineating a central open court. This exterior court forms the geographic, social, and perceptual heart of the library. The fluidity of the interior spaces and their organisation around an exterior common space facilitates serendipitous encounters and catalyses human relations.
Acting as contemplative space and oasis, the court visually connects while keeping physically separated adjacent program elements. While allowing for the deep penetration of natural light, it facilitates orientation, organises the different collections, and ensures the tranquillity of the main reading room. In winter its carpet of snow will accentuate the luminosity and peacefulness of the library spaces.