Pelletier de Fontenay Unveils New Pavilion at Montreal Botanical Garden

A Simple, Elegant Fusion of Architecture and Nature

Photography by James Brittain

Montreal-based architectural studio Pelletier de Fontenay has unveiled the new Botanical Garden Entrance Pavilion, a key addition to the city’s celebrated green space. This project forms part of a larger initiative, including the transformation of the Montreal Insectarium and the redesigned entrance to Parc Maisonneuve. The pavilion not only serves as a welcoming gateway for visitors but also facilitates ticket sales and information dissemination, enhancing the overall visitor experience. The inclusion of a smaller, separate check-in kiosk ensures efficiency and convenience for all guests.

Photography by James Brittain

Developed in collaboration with landscape architects from the City of Montreal’s Urban Parks Division and the firm Lemay, the pavilion serves as a crucial link between Maisonneuve Park and the newly completed Insectarium. One of the primary challenges of this project was to create a guiding structure that respects the cultural heritage of the site while improving visitor orientation towards the Botanical Garden and Insectarium. By studying the long history of park and garden pavilions, the design team incorporated the romantic notion of ruins, blending architecture with nature in a harmonious and modern interpretation.

Photography by James Brittain

The pavilion draws inspiration from the romantic movement of the 18th and 19th centuries, where overgrown ruins symbolized the sublime and untamed aspects of nature. This theme is evident in the design, where architectural structures are integrated with natural elements, creating a symbiotic relationship between the built environment and the living world. The Montreal Botanical Garden’s Entrance Pavilion epitomizes this concept, presenting a hybrid figure where architecture is seamlessly intertwined with nature, ultimately becoming a living infrastructure.

Photography by James Brittain

Strategically positioned between Parc Maisonneuve and the Insectarium, the pavilion’s triangular plan serves as a focal point in the landscape, effectively managing the flow of pedestrian traffic. The design ensures that visitors enter on one side and exit on the other, creating a natural pathway towards the main attractions. The triangular base, combined with a wide, square-shaped roof, provides generous overhangs that offer protection from the elements, while the large sliding doors blur the boundaries between interior and exterior spaces.

Photography by James Brittain

Pelletier de Fontenay’s approach to the pavilion emphasizes landscape continuity and environmental responsiveness. The design allows the building to open up to the landscape, enabling visitors to experience the natural elements while planning their visit or obtaining tickets. This bioclimatic design reduces the need for artificial heating or cooling for much of the year, aligning with sustainable development principles.

Photography by James Brittain

The pavilion’s aesthetic is defined by the use of expanded Corten steel, which covers all surfaces except for the smooth vertical interior faces. This material choice reinforces the idea of a structure that evolves over time, with the Corten steel gradually oxidizing and climbing plants colonizing its surface. The resulting appearance evokes a ruin overtaken by nature, creating a timeless and enigmatic presence that resonates with the historical and cultural context of the Botanical Garden.

Overall, the Montreal Botanical Garden Entrance Pavilion by Pelletier de Fontenay is an example of the studio’s ability to blend functionality with poetic design. The project successfully navigates the tension between architectural rigor and contextual sensitivity, resulting in a dynamic and harmonious addition to one of Montreal’s most beloved green spaces. The pavilion not only enhances the visitor experience but also stands as a symbol of the enduring relationship between architecture and nature.

Project name: Botanical Garden Entrance Pavilion

Location: Montréal, Québec

Opening date: 24 novembre 2023

Client: Ville de Montréal

Architecture: Pelletier de Fontenay

Landscape architecture: Lemay

Civil, stucture, mechanical engineering: EXP

Photography: James Brittain

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