Saint-Germain Sewers and Aqueducts

ARCHITECT ACDF* architecture (allaire courchesne dupuis frappier_architecture_urbanisme_intérieur)
LOCATION Saint-Hubert, Quebec

The client–St-Germain Égouts et Aqueducs–is an expert in the manufacture of sanitary pipes and guttering since 1953. As a family business passed down through generations, the company intends to grow, requiring increased productivity and quality of service, and the construction of a new head office in St-Hubert.

For this business deeply rooted in the Saint-Hubert region, siting was obvious: the new headquarters is located in an industrial quadrant between Highway 116 to the north and the railway to the south, next to fallow farmland and adjacent to a residential zone. The proximity to the highway facilitates the handling of products and increases visibility to the public at large.

The plan enables the company to manage four key areas: administration, internal warehousing, external storage and manufacturing. Visually, the building appears to flow through the canal, a precious wooden box floating in a water basin. The wood volume illustrates a dual intention: firstly, the path of the product through the sequence of production, from factory to administration, then passing through the warehouse zones; and secondly, it is the reflection of the people who work there. The roasted-wood cladding represents the warm, close-knit nature of the family business in contrast to the austere rigidity of its concrete product.

Visibility is one of the fundamental issues of the project; one of the primary objectives was that the building should showcase the expertise of the company. Thus, a showroom, adjacent to the reception area, houses a permanent installation detailing the company’s history and its range of products. To demystify the process of production, there are windows offering glimpses of the different phases of production, made possible by the slips and openings within the “canal.”

A canopied recess in the façade demarcates entry into the building, located at the far end of a concrete footbridge “floating” above the basin. From this bridge, one is able to appreciate the glistening, rippling water in the basin via the lustrous reflective metal panels and the glass wall of the warehouse.

In the reception area, visitors can enjoy the exhibition space displaying the company’s top products. From here, views to the interior courtyard and surrounding landscape are provided as is access to offices and conference rooms.

The challenge of the warehouse space was its transparency and openness relative to the main entrance. The window permits visibility of the production line and the finished product prior to entry into the administration area, enabling natural light to flow through the building as well as offering views of the landscape.

Georges Adamczyk: Ce projet casse la “boîte,” cette figure trop connue du gros entrepôt à la périphérie des villes. Les architectes ont su rendre lisible les activités de l’usine et de l’entrepôt. Le carré de bois flottant de la partie administrative transforme radicalement la présence de ce type d’industrie, en lui conférant une présence inattendue par un ajustement rigoureux des volumes et le choix judicieux des matériaux.

Jane Pendergast: This project gives me hope on two fronts. Its straightforward contemporary architecture draws attention to traditionally under-celebrated infrastructure elements, and the project creates an elegant suburban campus of what might otherwise be a banal roadside setting.

Client St-Germain Égouts et Aqueducs
Architect Team Maxime-Alexis Frappier, Benoît Dupuis, Sylvain Allaire, Guy Courchesne, Joan Renaud, Gabriel Villeneuve, Robert Dequoy, Mathieu St-Hilaire, Denis Dupuis, Luis Maria Arias Duque, Marc-Olivier Dion, Denis Lavigne, Sophie Leborgne
Structural Métaux-Spec Inc.
Mechanical L&P Lavallée Inc./Aéro-Mécanique Turcotte Inc./Gicleurs Acme Inc.
Electrical Groupe Sermax Inc./Dimension Plus
Landscape ACDF* architecture + Entreprise Michaudville Inc.
Interiors ACDF* architecture
Contractor Construction Tigre Inc.
Area 50,000 ft2 total (10,000 ft2 administration)
Budget $5.5 M
Completion June 2008