The redesign of this historic convent (initially built in 1881) as the city hall and municipal offices re-establishes its presence at the center of community life. The project- repurposed by Affleck de la Riva Architectsin Quebec, Canada- creates a dialogue between the restored heritage building and a contemporary addition housing a new entry lobby, an elevator and a generously glazed stair-tower. Creating a new entry on the lateral street is part of an overall site strategy that relocates parking to the back of the building and frees up the front of the site for a new formal garden.
As a foil against the traditional elements of the historic structure – a mansard roof, limestone masonry, a sculpted wood gallery – the addition is conceived as a series of interlocking rectangular volumes. The vertical arrangement of these volumes creates an asymmetrical tower that echoes the old convent’s central bell-tower. Combining artisanal materials like copper and slate with contemporary materials such as plate glass, aluminum and sheet steel, the addition provides a spacious, naturally lit lobby and up-to-date vertical circulation. The new city hall respects the interior organisation of the original convent, centered on an entry hall and a two storey chapel. An ornate plaster vault, decorative columns and stained-glass windows in the chapel have been restored and the space has been repurposed as the municipal council chambers. [Photos and information provided via e-mail by Affleck de la Riva Architects ]
Inside the school, a wall made of cross-laminated timber separates classrooms from the main corridor, providing a space for storage and study. With very little to work with, the architects have managed to create a building that is much more than just the sum of all of its parts
Energy during the construction process was saved by using FSC-certified glulam timber instead of steel to create the building’s distinctive wavy roof, while the store’s external walls use hemclad, a highly innovative insulator made from hemp, which, like all plants, absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere as it grows. An 80,000 litre water tank below ground provides water for the store’s toilets and waters the site’s green wall’, which provides natural insulation, acts as an all-natural pollution filter near the car park, and helps to encourage biodiversity. The result is a building that uses a fraction of the energy of structures of a similar size, and is still very popular with local shoppers.