May 1, 2010
by Canadian Architect
ARCHITECT Saucier + Perrotte Architectes
LOCATION Montreal, Quebec
Located in the heart of historic Old Montreal and facing the vibrant piers of the Old Port, Scandinave Les Bains Vieux-Montréal is an urban spa whose purpose is to provide a thermal therapy experience that engages each of the body’s senses. The building, rebuilt half a century ago after extensive fire damage, has housed warehouse functions until recently when it was acquired by the new owners.
The formal parti of the project is derived from the contact between hot and cold–and more specifically, the naturally occurring phenomena associated with these conditions. The design distills the idea of cool glacial forms and the warmth of volcanic rocks. White angular masses of glacial topography coupled with volcanic geology bespeak the duality that is central to the thermal therapeutic experience proposed by the spa. This duality is articulated through the form of the spaces and the selection of materials.
Upon exiting the dressing room, the visitor is immersed in a unique environment where walls, floors and ceiling are slightly angled according to a notion of interior topography through which visitors may wander. These angles, though subtle, give bathers a perceptual difference from their everyday environs; the awareness of the corporeal relationship with their surroundings is heightened, thus grounding each visitor for that moment in time. Just as in a natural landscape, slight undulations in the ground plane create gentle slopes; depressions in the floor level generate basins of water for bathing. At particular moments, volumes emerge from the ground to sculpt interior zones for the sauna and steam bath. Uniting the main space is a wood ceiling that echoes the movements of the floor: walls of white marble mosaic appear to melt at the point of contact with the warm-toned wood on the ceiling, resulting in accentuated architectural reveals. Heated cantilevered benches made of black slate offer visitors a warm place to pause in between hot and cold bathing cycles. Rounding out the holistic journey is a relaxation room where bathers can relax in rocking chairs or beanbag lounge chairs.
Opalescent glass has been added to admit natural light through the building’s existing openings while providing a sense of privacy for the visitors. The light that permeates the bath area glows, adding to the purity of the space and the feeling of tranquility for bathers, all while keeping contact with city life. Along rue de la Commune, a thin cascading layer of water flows on glass surfaces, filtering views so that from the exterior, passersby can see only shadowed silhouettes of the figures within the hot bath.
Georges Adamczyk: La présence luminescente et mystérieuse de ce programme inséré dans les murs d’un édifice du Vieux Montréal, le long de la rue de la Commune, face au port et aux brumes du grand large auxquelles où on rève immanquablement, tient ses promesses lorsque l’on pénètre dans ce lieu dédié aux soins du corps. L’architecture intérieure et la subtilité des rapports visuels et tactiles proposent aux usagers une expérience sensorielle rare et précieuse, hors du temps.
Nader Tehrani: Of the submitted projects, this one displays an incredible restraint accompanied by a meticulous technical control, such that any evidence of detailing is silenced. Within a banal context, right next to the sidewalk, the project “transports” and distances its audience to another place.
Client Gestion Rivière du Diable
Architect Team Gilles Saucier, André Perrotte, Jean-Philippe Beauchamp, Anna Bendix, Trevor Davies, Yves De Fontenay
Mechanical/Electrical Leroux, Beaudoin, Hurens & Associés
Contractor Société Desjardins-Larouche
Area 1,000 m2
Clients who enter the hydrojet bath experience the dissolution of the floor plane, and the gently sloping wood ceiling above enhances the sensation.
The drum-shaped steam bath is sheathed in tiny textured mosaic tiles.
The cold shower area on the way to the hydrojet bath.
Artificial and natural daylight illuminate water droplets in suspension to heighten the sensorial experience for those luxuriating in the circular steam bath.
1 hydrojet bath
2 cold basin
3 cold shower
4 steam bath
6 juice bar
7 relaxation area
8 dressing room
10 office space
11 massage room
12 employees’ room