Maison de la littérature

Montreal-based Chevalier Morales Architectes, the recipient of the RAIC 2018 Emerging Architectural Practice Award, has gained some note of late for cultural projects that take sensitivity to their surrounding communities seriously. One such example is the Maison de la littérature, located in the historic neighbourhood of Old Québec.

Chevalier Morales designed a contemporary annex that is a simple and refined extension to Old Québec’s neo-Gothic heritage church, the Wesley Temple. Since its opening, the Maison de la littérature became both a vibrant home for Québec literature and a popular tourist destination.

The firm’s strategy to move part of the program provided a transparent and universal entrance that helped declutter Wesley Temple and restore the church’s overall structure.

Interior of the Wesley temple during construction, Photo Credit: Chevalier Morales Architectes

The Maison de la littérature’s program also includes a variety of spaces such as a concert/lecture hall, a café, a temporary exhibition space, a permanent exhibition, a resident writer’s apartment, and a multimedia studio.

The transparency of the annex gives an open contemporary feel to the main entrance, the Institut Canadien de Québec, while the exterior shell is made of glass panels with an underlayer of perforated brass sheets.

Equipped with e-books, Twitter poems, and home to main creative spaces in the upper levels, this extension brings the institution fully into the 21st century.

The hanging contemporary light fixture at the heart of the building vertically connects the café, two exhibition areas, and the library collections.

The almost completely white library embraces the generous spatiality of the original church, including carefully restored elements from previous transformations that highlight the building’s history. Features like the preserved ogive windows and the ceiling’s moldings blend with the contemporary furniture.

Project Data |Client / Ville de Québec|Project end date/2017 | Budget / 11.8 M$ | Area / 1920 m2 |Capacity/235 seats |Prizes (selection) / Governor General’s Medals in Architecture (2018); Prix d’excellence en architecture de l’Ordre des architectes du Québec, catégorie Bâtiments culturels (2017); Grand Prix d’excellence de l’Ordre des architectes du Québec (2017); Prix Architecture de bibliothèques et centre d’archives du Québec (2017); Prix d’excellence du Conseil du Patrimoine Religieux du Québec, catégorie Réutilisation (2016); Mérite d’architecture de la Ville de Québec, catégorie Bâtiment municipal (2016) ; Canadian Architect Award of Excellence (2014) | Collaborators / EMS Ingénierie, Stantec (Dessau), Boudreau Fortier Huot | Work of public art / Éphémères durables by Mathieu Valade

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