ACDF* has shared with us their design for the new library at Saint-Eustache, which is north of Montréal, Canada. The library is founded on the notion of creating a contemporary project that also shares a story that reveals the historic value of its site. The project symbolizes the reconciliation between the urban form of the Saint-Eustache as it is today, and the history of the riverside site. The concept for the project further integrates fundamental ecologically responsible principles which focus on building compactness, energy economy, and the use of high quality, sustainable materials ensuring the permanence of the project. More images and architect’s description after the break.
Principles of Landscape and Urban Design
The parti of the project attempts to distinguish between diverse components of the project that converge with each other, yet compose a homogeneous cohesion. The new building will function as a bridge between the city and nature, tranquility and movement, culture and community. The proposal is thought of as the idea of “living together”, continuously promoting exchange between the library users, staff, and community. The volumetrics and orientation of the new library are derived from a series of major precepts discovered at the beginning of the conception process. The factors include the diverse built and natural context of the site, physical site constraints, and the complex functional program of a modern library.
The Context, Community and the New Library
This positioning of the building establishes the new library as a beacon at the entrance to the city, while managing the utilitarian requirements of the project such as parking and deliveries. The library will be constructed over former water reservoir infrastructure (which is now filled), to minimize project costs, but most importantly to reduce the disturbance of the riverside site. The main façade of the new library has been angled towards the street in addition to a central portion that opens onto the adjacent intersection establishing a powerful presence in the town. This skewed orientation gives to the scheme a presence when viewed from the city, but also from the rivers edge while in acting as a pavilion that marks the entry to the public park.
This orientation encourages visitors to once again view the natural aspects of the site from the boulevard, while allowing the public and the local residents to appropriate the new public space as that had not been able to do in the past. The layout of the new library aims to enhance the presence of water while making reference to the natural strata of the riparian riverside landscape. The concept of landscaping proposes a continuous vegetative and mineral stratification of the site from the local street through to the rivers edge, tying urban to nature. The thematic bands currently present (shoreline, tidal flats, burme, meadow and woodlands), will be extended onto the site to provide a diverse landscape that enriches the experience along the public paths between the new building and the river.
Methodologies in Deriving the Form of the Library
The siting of the library responds to a strong intention to connect the urban form of the town, to the bucolic site. The point of departure is the deformation of a simple, elongated box in which the library program is placed. Following this, the volume was manipulated twice to generate the basic form of the building.
In the first move, the box is brought towards the village creating a presence and establishing an urban connection. Secondly, the elongated box is bent to form a “U”, exposing the ends of the box to the river while carefully respecting the site constraints. At each end of the box, the cantilevered fully fenestrated readings rooms create panoramic views over the river. Under one of the cantilevers, the site is terraced towards the river creating a shaded outdoor amphitheatre that will be used for library programs and will provide a destination for public who use the sites cycling and walking paths. The base of the “U” form is orientated towards the city, and address the urban context while housing the projects community functions such as the café and multi-function room. Along with the advantages of enhanced views and programmatic functionality, the volumetric form of the buildings reduces the new libraries overall physical impact on the sensitive areas of the site.
Architects: ACDF* architecture-urbanisme-intérieur Location: Saint-Eustache, Canada Project Team: Sylvain Allaire, Guy Courchesne, Maxime Frappier, Joan Renaud, Laurence Lebeux, Antonio Dibacco, Gabriel Villeneuve. Constructor: Opron Client: City of Saint-Eustache Project Area: 2600 sqm Project Year: 2010-2012