Following decades of car-oriented growth that replaced swaths of greenery with asphalt, the city of Montreal is attempting to bring nature back with the launch of its ambitious new Biodiversity Corridor project. A team of four firms — civiliti, LAND Italia, Table Architecture and Biodiversité Conseil — designed the project, which was selected as the winning submission in a 2018 national landscape architecture competition. The greening initiative will be implemented in Montreal’s Saint-Laurent borough over the next 20 years.
According to the design team, approximately 70% of Saint-Laurent is now covered in asphalt as a result of the rapid industrialization of the city that started in the 1960s. Dismayed by the disappearance of tree cover and vegetation, local authorities in 2015 began conducting various studies — including detailed inventories of existing fauna and flora — for bringing nature back to the region. This ultimately led to the idea of the Biodiversity Corridor.
The Biodiversity Corridor will be organized along a narrow strip of “wasteland” that runs underneath overhead power lines along three main boulevards. The space, currently occupied by nothing other than mowed lawns, will be transformed into flowering meadows to attract birds, pollinating insects and small animals. Earthworks will also be employed to create an undulating landscape for visual interest. New pedestrian trails, upgraded bicycle paths and a series of activity and rest areas will be added as well.
“The corridor will enable the transition from a mostly asphalted, fragmented territory to a diversified urban landscape, connected to all living beings,” said Fannie Duguay-Lefebvre, a spokesperson for civiliti. The Biodiversity Corridor masterplan is also expected to serve as a model for sustainable landscape reclamation for all of Montreal as well as other cities and countries. The project received a Special Jury Award for the category “Sustainable Development” in the 2020 edition of the National Urban Design Awards.
Images via civiliti, LAND Italia, Table Architecture and Biodiversité Conseil