Emerging Talent: Pelletier de Fontenay
To hear them tell it, the business relationship between the partners of Pelletier de Fontenay was almost inevitable. When they were students, Hubert Pelletier, 39, and Yves de Fontenay, 33, shared a rampaging intellectual hunger and an insatiable curiosity about architectural history. Over a decade later, they’re running Pelletier de Fontenay in an office adjacent to Montreal’s trendy Mile Ex neighbourhood. The firm has grown to six people since 2010 and has been serving the Montreal area with striking residential projects and a smattering of public commissions. This year, Pelletier de Fontenay was awarded a prestigious 2016 Architectural League Prize for Young Architects + Designers.
Recently, the black t-shirted pair won an international competition to revamp the Insectarium of Montreal, in partnership with German design firm Kuehn Malvezzi and Quebec’s Jodoin Lamarre Pratte. The team started with the question: how can architecture be designed to contain nature? They explored the history of natural science museums, and how they related to the scientific view of nature in the era they were built. To design an insectarium appropriate to the present day and age, “it was about creating a real symbiosis between the inside and the outside,” de Fontenay explains. Instead of a purely didactic approach in which visitors are presented with information, the team developed an immersive design that will connect visitors to nature in a multisensory way.