Quebec’s Agora des Arts venue for performing arts has officially opened

The Agora des Arts, a venue for performance arts designed by Chevalier Morales inside an adaptively reused church, has officially opened. 

Photo credit: Chevalier Morales and James Brittain

The Agora des Arts, a venue for performance arts in Rouyn-Norand, Quebec, designed by Chevalier Morales, has officially opened.

Chevalier Morales won the project through a 2018 competition.

Photo credit: Chevalier Morales

The site of the project is the church of Notre-Dame-de-Protection, which has been adaptively reused and received an addition to form the new arts centre. The church is located at the centre of the city of Rouyn-Noranda. For the past 85 years, it has been a place of worship, gathering, and culture. This notion has been influential in the design of the Agora des Arts. The project’s vision, public programming, architecture, and urban layout all aim to make it an essential pillar of performing arts in the community.

Photo credit: Chevalier Morales

The proposal for the revitalization aimed to increase opportunities for social engagement by creating three new exterior forecourts. The main entrance forms a public space of interest, while the natural slope of the site is used to create a small, tiered seating area. The terrace aims to reinterpret the shape of the original forecourt, and acts as a complimentary exterior space to the second floor interior foyer.

Photo credit: Chevalier Morales and James Brittain

The church’s grand symbolic staircase was shifted horizontally to itself become a performance space, and links the two levels of the foyer. The textures and finishes of the wooden stair echo church pews, pulpits and confessionals.

The second floor of the new reception pavilion includes the grand staircase, a perimeter walkway wide enough to serve as a foyer, and a large skylight. The facade radiates a reddish light on the outside, while providing a comfortable setting on the inside. It is entirely woven from elongated red brick masonry and assembled in the form of a latticework in front of a glass wall. This space also provides a transition to the auditorium.

Photo credit: Chevalier Morales and James Brittain
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