The Opeongo Pavilion

Photo credit: Stephane Groleau

Occupying 230-square-metres of Parc du Mont-Orford’s scenic landscape — amid lakes, mountains, and forests — is the modernized Opeongo Pavilion.

The name, Opeongo, derives from the Anishnaabe word opeauwingauk (sandy narrows); it refers to Canada’s Indigenous people and their deep love for nature.

Photo credit: Stephane Groleau

The park is run by the SÉPAQ (Société des établissements de plein air du Québec), which handles Québec’s park network.

During the SÉPAQ’s development changes in the early 2010s, the establishment favoured a contemporary approach rather than traditional for its new buildings.

Photo credit: Stephane Groleau

According to Anne Carrier architecture, the architectural team behind the pavilion’s design, creating a signature structure for the park was an exciting challenge that involved persuading guests who are accustomed to traditional chalet-style visitor centres.

The Centre de services Opeongo, next to Fraser Lake, serves swimmers and watersports enthusiasts. It replaces a facility that burned in 2016 and comprises three distinct structures.

Photo credit: Stephane Groleau

The main space, mostly transparent, includes a reception area that expands into an outdoor patio overlooking the lake. The second structure is open on a seasonal basis, and it serves mainly for watersports equipment storage, while the third structure is directed to beach activities.

The pavilion’s form and location resulted from a careful study of the site and the activities that take place in and around it. Another major consideration was direct access to views of the lake.

In keeping with SÉPAQ’s wishes, wood was used everywhere, and this helped the pavilion fit into the natural environment.

Photo credit: Stephane Groleau

Photo credit: Stephane Groleau

A slim roof connects the structures, protecting users from direct sun and inclement weather. The openings are indicated by pale, smoother cedar, contributing to a coherent reading of the building.

“Whenever we get the opportunity to design a building in natural settings, we use the site’s features as our main sources of inspiration,” says architect Anne Carrier.

Photo credit: Stephane Groleau

Photo credit: Stephane Groleau

In Parc du Mont Orford, Carrier’s team opted for natural wood, as a structural element and as cladding for both the interior and exterior.

Structural wood decking was chosen for its thinness and load-bearing capacity, while dark cedar cladding was mostly used as rainscreen, and to ventilate the seasonal buildings.

Photo credit: Stephane Groleau

Photo credit: Stephane Groleau

The Centre de services Opeongo won an award of excellence from Cecobois in 2019. A jury comment aptly described the project’s intentions:

“With its generous overhangs, its carefully designed columns, both outside and inside—where they are protected by a curtain wall—the durability of the structural elements and wood cladding is not in doubt. Apart from demonstrating the designers’ significant efforts to achieve sustainability, the project is notable for its amazingly elegant thin roof.”

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