The Walking Tree
2021

« Je pense que la Terre est un être vivant qui connait des émotions aussi fortes que chacun de nous. Je crois aussi qu’elle a une sensibilité propre. Il m’arrive de croire que l’homme est un arbre qui marche. Les arbres sont donc le peuple de la Terre. Il n’y a aucune différence entre la terre et nous. Elle peut se mettre en colère, et c’est un tremblement qui ébranle tout ce qui se trouve à sa surface. »

– Dany Laferrière

From the first sketches, an image emerged: a lively building with a bright heart and a traveling soul. A dynamic colonnade barely touches the sidewalk: a cultural escape is in the making. The library is a walking tree; there is no difference between the library and its inhabitants.

Social inclusion underlies this ambitious venture. The pilot project at the base of the initiative traces avenues of integration and inclusion and generates several questions. How can we better welcome newcomers? How can we encourage encounters between people from different generations, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds? How can we accommodate marginalized and disadvantaged people? To answer these concerns, the project proposes a strategy that touches the head, the body and the spirit so that the citizens of these two boroughs recognize themselves in their library.

The welcome begins with an inviting design that recalls familiar places, such as the interior garden that offers a tropical atmosphere with its lush vegetation over four seasons. The space is defined by earthy colors, abundant light, comforting warmth and the sound of trickling rainwater directed to a waterfall and then to the garden pond.

In this haven of peace and vegetation, an artistic circuit unfolds, rallying literature, painting, sculpture, dance, oral histories and digital art. Amateur creators rub shoulders with local and international artists and color the walls. The idea of the hard on the outside and the soft on the inside is echoed in this shell housing immaterial culture.

Details
Site
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Program
Library and Cultural Centre
Client
City of Montreal and Ahuntsic-Cartierville – Montréal-Nord Interborough
Status
Multidisciplinary Architecture Competition Winner
Credits
Architect Project Manager
César Herrera, Gavin Affleck et Richard de la Riva
Coconceptors
AdlR and Coarchitecture
Project Team AdlR
Giovanna Andaluz, Lucas Cormier-Affleck, Cédric Grossi, Mylène Moliner-Roy
Project Team Coarchitecture
Diego Diaz Bolanos, William Leblanc, Florence Dallaire, Tristan L. Vachon, Mathieu Castonguay, Normand Hudon, Gustavo Cabanez, Nicholas Denis
Structural Engineer
Arup
Mechanical - Electrical Engineer
Martin Roy et associés
Landscape Architect
François Courville, paysage
Artwork Integration Consultant
Espace Mushagalusa