Montreal Space for Life’s architecture competition

Space for Life, Montreal’s largest museum and tourist complex, is organizing an international architecture competition for official launch in February 2014. Following the huge success of the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, the Space for Life is reasserting its desire to meld art, science and emotion by creating a unique immersive visitor experience through an innovative pairing of bold architecture and design in three major projects: the Insectarium’s Metamorphosis project, the renewal of the Biodôme and the Botanical Garden’s Glass Pavilion, legacies of Montreal’s 375th birthday.

Inspired by the Space for Life’s mission—to reconnect humans and nature—the competition will seek an overall creative approach where boldness and innovation will be the design hallmarks of an immersive and sensory spatial experience. This offers an exciting opportunity to participate in the evolution of the Space for Life and to get involved in making our city the flagship of a vast global movement for biodiversity.

The three projects in the competition are all located on the Space for Life site. Reflecting a multidisciplinary vision wherein the architectural gesture emerges from a global creative approach, a bold architectural design will create living spaces that are permeable, ecological and evolving, while meeting the highest standards for green building. LEED Platinum certification will be targeted and the Living Building Challenge certification will serve as a source of inspiration for the project. These projects are part of the Space for Life’s $189.3-million investment plan. The Government of Quebec has allocated a total budget of $45 million for its realization.

Each of the projects in this contest stands out in its nature, objectives and challenges. The Insectarium’s Metamorphosis project will expand and renovate the existing building and some outdoor areas. Inspired by biophilia, its architecture should provide sensory experiences and unexpected encounters that rekindle the relationship between humans and insects.

The renewed Biodôme project is intended to redevelop some exhibition spaces, including the ecosystems within the Biodôme. It aims to revive the debate on our relationship with nature through a more immersive, introspective and emotional visitor experience that will promote more environmentally respectful behaviour.

The Botanical Garden’s Glass Pavilion will offer bold, innovative and organic architecture informed by biophilic design principles. Versatile, technologically efficient and flexible, it will host horticultural events as well as environmentally responsible corporate functions.

The contest is open to multidisciplinary teams of architects, engineers, designers, LEED and Living Building Challenge certification experts, landscape architects and designers. Applicants may submit proposals for one, two or three components as part of a single competitive process with one deadline. The winners for each component will be chosen by the jury in July 2014.

The Ville de Montréal’s Bureau du design worked with Espace pour la vie on preparing and running the architecture competition. Such competitions are among the many commitments taken on by the city and the partners in Action Plan 2007-2017—Montreal, Cultural Metropolis, which aims to promote excellence in design and architecture while affirming Montreal’s status as a UNESCO City of Design. The UNESCO Creative Cities Network, which Montréal is a member, includes 41 cities in 23 countries. It helps creators in member cities share their experiences, while promoting the international exchange of best practices and knowledge.

The Montreal Space for Life is the world’s first site dedicated to humanity and nature. It includes the Montreal Biodôme, Insectarium, Botanical Garden and Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium. Together, they are committed to preserving and enhancing biodiversity, and call on citizens locally and around the world to join this bold and creative urban movement.

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