Gardens Under the Roof
The reconstruction of the East-Northeast Artists' Residence provides an opportunity to redefine its identity locally and internationally. How do we provide a living and working environment for contemporary artists that stimulates creativity and exchange? How to integrate in a sensitive way with the geographical, historical and cultural context of Saint-Jean-Port-Joli while opening up to the future? The architecture of the new artist-run center focuses on two opposing and complementary realities that are central to the identity of Est-Nord-Est: the shared community life symbolized by the residence's large roof (attic) and the individual contemplative life represented by direct contact with nature (gardens).
The East-North-East artists' residence is located on De Gaspé Street, a few hundred meters from the heart of the village of Saint-Jean-Port-Joli. The building is set back from the road, leaving a vegetated plateau in front of the building, which reinforces its civic and rural character. The front gardens create a distance from the traffic and the parking lots below.
The front facade extends the west wing of Pierre Bourgault's workshops, offering a respectful setback of 12m from its front body. The installation of the artists' residence at right angles densifies the western portion of the lot and frees up a generous outdoor space in the heart of the complex. The resulting courtyard, in addition to enhancing the existing meadow and barn, generates a stimulating work and experimental space for the artists. This contemplative garden becomes the focal point of the center, linking its activities to those of the preserved buildings (Bourgault workshops and barn).
The interface offered to passers-by is both familiar and intriguing. Its simplicity gives it a strong identity. Composed of a long plank wall forming a base, it is topped by a projecting roof. The apparent lightness of this triangular prism is emphasized by a horizontal band in the upper part of the base on which it rests. A lattice of oblique planks closes the volume of the attic, adding to the delicacy of the composition and filtering the natural light. With its raw materials and its double-pitched roof, the façade borrows vocabulary elements from local vernacular architecture, unabashedly asserting its full northern character.
The very controlled openings of the façade announce the introverted nature of the residence. The main door in solid wood, oversized and imposing, recalls the severe architecture of monasteries. Crossing its threshold marks a break from the rural life of the region as much as from that of the large urban centers. The artist enters a living environment that evolves to the rhythm of its own space-time.
The second access to the building is intended for the transport of material. The result of a long ramp laid out on the ground in the manner of old hay barns, the plank door slides open onto a partially covered space that serves as storage. This buffer space provides direct access to the backyard and common assembly area to facilitate the transit of large items. Volumetrically, this exterior passage is in line with the Bourgault workshops and simplifies the connection to its adjoining wall.
The organization of the interior spaces favors intimacy and tranquility, but also exchanges and meetings. At the front of the garden level are the specialized workshops along the public road. These noisy rooms where technical equipment is housed are close to the building's services (toilets, mechanical room, maintenance). Adjacent to the main entrance, the presence of the wood and metal workshops unambiguously announces to visitors the building's vocation: research and applied artistic creation.
Through a large central corridor, the entrance leads to the open space, the heart of the residence. Located in the multi-purpose room, the common kitchen forms, with the assembly workshops, the interior of an "L" generously glazed on the courtyard-garden. The activities that take place there, as well as its central position in the organization of the circulation, make it a crossroads where artists, employees and visitors meet. Its spatial qualities (garden/woodland opening and double height) and the flexibility of its layout allow for the organization of a wide variety of activities in a contemplative setting that encourages creativity.
At the center of the composition, an island formed by the technician's counter and the tool room facilitates the reception and management of activities on the garden floor. Serving sometimes as a drop-off point for visitors, sometimes as a checkpoint for members and most often as a landmark for artists, this station serves as the organizational hub of the center's creative activities.
The crossroads effect of the open space is accentuated by the presence of the staircase that provides access to the roof space. Inserted into the common area at a double height, it serves on one side the studios where the artists live and on the other the administrative spaces of East-North-East. The atmosphere is more subdued than on the first floor, thanks in particular to the use of wood on the floor and roof. Between these two poles, the documentation area and a common lounge articulate the circulation by opening onto a mineral roof-garden. Inaccessible, this exterior space nevertheless allows for abundant natural lighting in the heart of the attic.
The large central intersection acts as a buffer space between the noisier activities in the front and the back. Set back at the bottom of the first floor, the individual workshops enjoy a certain quietness and views of the gardens and woodlands. Each workshop has an overhead ceiling area where a glass strip provides indirect lighting and natural ventilation. The white painted plywood ceilings and walls are finished on the inside to allow for easy hanging of various prints and objects. Each studio has access to a French window that opens onto a walkway inviting you to stroll around the gardens and woods.
By reducing its expression to the essential, the architecture of the East-North-East artist center relies on what makes its identity strong: the creativity of the artists who inhabit it and the beauty of the nature that surrounds it. The articulation of activities around a contemplative crossroads opening onto a garden courtyard encourages exchanges and stimulates creativity. The setting back from the street and the appropriation of a vernacular language and raw materials anchor the building in its context and give it a strong and resolutely Nordic identity. With its pragmatic yet poetic organization, the new East-North-East Center offers a fertile ground for contemplation, exchange and exploration for the artists of today and tomorrow.
(Unofficial automated translation)
2.4.1- The jury appreciated the spatial richness as well as the thoughtful materiality of the proposal in close relation with the rural context.
2.4.2- The functional distribution proposed is very controlled and the efficiency in grouping the various functions according to their nature, public or private, work or rest, soiled or not, is convincing and effective
2.4.3- The positioning of the common workshops in the façade is an acceptable proposal since it highlights the artistic production.
2.4.4- The jury appreciated the bioclimatic approach developed with rigor and the proposed constructive solutions.
2.4.5- The opacity proposed for the main façade is however questioned, as this gesture does not create any link with the public space and does not offer an inviting façade.
2.4.6-Despite the proposed materiality, the integration with the surrounding context is questionable since the proposed volumetry refers more to a strongly institutional architecture.
2.4.7- The development of a garden in front of the building has raised several doubts about the beneficial contribution of this proposal and the costs involved.
2.4.8- The proposed treatment of the main entrance raised several doubts.
2.4.9- The relevance of the position of the garden courtyard was also questioned since its sunlight is not optimal and its location is justified mainly by the development of an agricultural building whose durability is not assured.
(From jury report)
(Unofficial automated translation)
15 scanned / 15 viewable
- Presentation Panel
- Axonometric Drawing
- Axonometric Drawing
- Construction detail
- Presentation Panel