Competition for the new Planetarium

Project Data

Location : Montreal, QC
Client : City of Montreal
Competition Date : 04/2009
In consortium with : Atelier Big City

The will to offer Montreal a scenographic, outstanding and sustainable building which contributes to the intensification of the urban life and to the success of the whole formed by the Muséums nature de Montréal, supports the chosen approach for the Planetarium’s new design. The new Planetarium is the fruit of collective work which is intuitive or poetic at the same time : spatially and perceptually, which architectural and urban spaces does one propose to the visitors, the employees of the Planetarium and the citizens in general? and scientific : how to possibly best fulfill the requirements of the program, to decide of sustainable development strategies and to integrate them completely into the project while respecting the budget’s limits? In the development of the project, these aspects mutually inform themselves. Right from the start, a first idea imposed itself clearly ; it was about charting the universe, building the sky in some kind of way and translate into architecture the amazement which one can feel under the vault of heaven, its depth and its impalpable scale to communicate it subtly. This idea directed the design of space, where the jamming of limits, depth of built spaces and envelope take great importance. In addition, starting from a rational analysis of the site and program, and to carry out the best connection to the Biodôme, a course which paradoxically leads brightness to the twilight was drawn at level 100, which is actually that of the basement, towards higher levels. From a vertical stretching of our planet towards space point of view, this paradox is however not without logic. Elementary strategies of sustainable development quickly crystallized the building’s geometry and established the importance of a solar wall which, while crossing the interior on three levels, becomes an architectural mark and a strong scenographic element around and in which the distribution and the preconditioning of air flows are organized : the sustainable development approach is indissociable from architecture ; it is a stakeholder of scenography. In a perspective where the Planetarium holds the role of making nature science known and appreciated by the population, and since it is one of the Muséums nature de Montréal, the integration and the expression of landscape and built devices which contribute to minimize, even lighten the exploitation and the wear of our own planet is imperative. The principles of sustainable development are also connected to the ambition of intensifying urban life in a place which tends to be invaded punctually then deserted, than occupied daily. Already the only programming for the Planetarium that will contribute to increase the stream of visitors to get there. Its outdoor installations, by demineralizing the Olympic slab (the new Olympic garden?) and by creating a variety of appropriable spaces reinforces the bond with the very bucolic botanical garden and will also encourage walkers to come and continue their ambulation to one another…