May 3, 2010
by Canadian Architect
Three emerging architects, Kim Pariseau, Étienne Pelletier and Dominic Poncelet have met this competition challenge by proposing an audacious new project entitled LOOP that transforms the public space above the Ville-Marie Expressway into a dynamic experience.
Currently, this residual space is an eyesore that divides the historic Old Montreal from the bustling downtown core. The goal of this project is to reconnect the urban fabric and form a public meeting place to create a point of convergence between these two districts along with a third – underground Montreal. In effect, neglected underground life (metro, highway, shopping complexes) is transformed in order to complement the exterior public space.
The originality of this project lies mostly in changing our perception of underground sound. Noise created by the metro and the highway is generally considered as a nuisance in urban life, something to be eliminated or avoided. Here, these nuisances are seen in a new light: one of leisure, integration and entertainment. The name of the project, LOOP, represents in one sense a synergy between the two realms of underground and aboveground conditions. And in a second sense, it represents an attempt to reclaim the void that has been created by the Ville-Marie Expressway’s hulking concrete body.
This new space reconnects tourist sites and cultural attractions such as the Palais de Congrès/CHUM and Place Jacques-Cartier/Quartier des spectacles, creating a seamless downtown. Furthermore, this site also improves street flow, usage and access to Montreal’s underground. It proposes a valuable reordering of urban infrastructure and its surroundings.
By vertically linking the underground with the ground level via audio terminals and access points, the public space engages pedestrians and stimulates communication. City sounds (conversations, metro, highway, shows) are captured from lower strata in order to be partially emitted on the surface. The decibel levels captured are retransmitted as sound but also as light via a lighting mechanism that harmonizes sound and light, which changes based on the intensity of the sound. So when an underground train passes through, its path briefly illuminates the space in an ephemeral passage of movement, sound and light.
This new space would become an urban melody, a contemporary industrial urban visual experience. Inspired by the colours of Marcelle Ferron’s glassworks, the play of light, modulated by the sounds of the city, would result in a new eclectic, animated environment. The show never ends as long as public bodies are in flux.
For more information, please visit www.realisonsmontreal.com/docs/projects/10_RM_Shuko_CdM_rapport_jury_final_ang.pdf.