115 Studios–Cirque du Soleil

Architect Les Architectes Fabg

Location Montreal, Quebec

La Cit des arts du cirque (TOHU), is a non-profit organization founded by En Piste–the national association of circus arts professionals, companies and institutions, the National Circus School (cole nationale de cirque) and Cirque du Soleil. Its threefold mission includes: a cultural mission to secure Montreal’s place as an international circus arts capital; an environmental mission to actively participate in the revitalization of the second largest urban landfill site in North America; and a community mission to be a place where culture, environmental consciousness and the community become closely intertwined and constantly influence each other.

TOHU chose to put down roots on the borders of the Saint-Michel Environmental Complex (CESM), a vast 192-hectare limestone quarry gradually turned into a landfill site. By the end of the 1980s, the site received nearly a million tons of waste per year, and eventually became the focus of the most extensive environmental rehabilitation project ever undertaken by the City of Montreal. The development plan called for the site to be transformed into a dynamic urban park with educational, cultural, sports and commercial-industrial sectors.

115 Studios–CDS is a housing project for the Cirque du Soleil that houses young athletes and artists taking part in amateur festivals and competitions. Performers from all around the world converge at the Cirque du Soleil headquarters in Montreal for a short period of training before touring with the company’s productions. This project contains 115 studios including some that can be combined to become larger suites. The studios are complemented by living rooms, balconies, a fitness room, a games room and an internet caf.

The transient nature of the building’s nomadic occupants is reflected in the building as well as the tension that exists between the individual and the collective in the company. The project explores the notion of dynamic equilibrium in the same way that jugglers, contortionists, and trapeze artists seemingly defy weight and gravity.

Amale Andraos: By creating two buildings to house visiting artists at Cirque du Soleil, the project breaks down the scale of the program, allowing the two structures to play off of each other and suggest the beginnings of a “mini-city.” The straightforward quality of the “stacked containers” concept gives energy and boldness to the overall massing. The organization of the main building around a central atrium not only allows for light, but brings a sense of community to the functional circulation areas, allowing them to become public meeting spaces. The attention to difference–changing window patterns, alternating colour highlights and the simplicity of materials combined in contrasting ways–all point to the research invested in creating variety from generic elements, making the housing both collective and personal at the same time.

Client Cirque Du Soleil

Architect Team Eric Gauthier

Structural Renaud Lapointe Ing

Mechanical/Electrical Progemes

Contractor Vergo Construction

Area 8,500 Ft2

Budget $7 M

Completion July 2003

Photography Steve Montpetit