Competitions are often an effective way to bring new ideas to the table. In the case of the Pierrefonds Public Library in Montréal, Canada, the competition winning design presented by the team at Chevalier Morales embodied a flow of public space that mirrors architectural elements from shopping malls and parks. The Pierrefonds Public Library is targeted to achieve LEED Gold Certification for its use of energy-efficiency and passive design elements. 

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A square glass building with benches in front of it

When designers got to work on the project, they dug out the original master plans of Pierrefonds-Roxboro that included copious green spaces within the design. The park in the plan was divided into zones for age groups and types of activities. The architects adopted this idea for the library, developing green zones, study zones, rest areas and play areas. As a result, the new library features an interior garden and natural light that travels throughout the space, a result of a skyroof and massive glass windows. 

Related: Energy-efficient Luxembourg library follows cradle-to-cradle principles

A two story glass building

Melding with the park concept, standard shopping mall features were also examined and installed. For example, the reversed stairways leading between the upper and lower levels encourage visitors to linger in the space, a tactic used in shopping centers. The glass roof is centered above this space as a focal point to draw people into the community area. However, the space remains open and flowing for unrestricted movement.

A building with lights turned on inside of it and lights lining the pathway outside at night

“The overall planning strategy of this innovative and highly technological library was inspired by the pragmatic efficiency of shopping centers, train stations and airports, all while avoiding their flaws,” the firm explained in a press release.

Inside corridor with stairs leading up to the second floor

Material selection and other elements of the interior design create a free flowing space from one area to another through a blank white palette and natural materials such as built-in oak bleachers. The light color selections also reflect light, providing a bright space even on cloudy days. 

Pine trees covering a glass building that peeks behind it

The outside of the building softens the typically stark parking areas with developed plants, trees and other landscaping. Islands of green surround the building, creating a campus that is inviting to the public, yet separate from the harsh urban environment. 

A glass building in the shape of a L with snow covering the ground and a red star sculpture in front of it

The new library is an addition to the initial library. While the new space surrounds the old, steps were taken to recycle bricks from the old into the new in order to merge the design elements together. 

+ Chevalier Morales

Images via Chevalier Morales