Quebec church transformed into a library
by Dan Hanganu and Côté Leahy Cardas

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Canadian studios Dan Hanganu Architectes and Côté Leahy Cardas Architectes have revamped the tent-like structure of a church in Quebec to create a modern library featuring coloured glazing, spiral staircases and lofty ceilings.

Lofty church in Quebec transformed into a library by Dan Hanganu and Cote Leahy Cardas

Completed in 1964 by Canadian architect Jean-Marie Roy, the St. Denys-du-Plateau Church already boasted a dramatically pointed structure that appears to float just above the ground. Dan Hanganu Architectes and Côté Leahy Cardas Architectes left this structure intact but added a pair of glazed blocks, one at either end.

Lofty church in Quebec transformed into a library by Dan Hanganu and Cote Leahy Cardas

Renamed as the Monique-Corriveau Library, in memory of a local author, the building now houses a public library and local community centre spread across two overground storeys and a large basement level.

Lofty church in Quebec transformed into a library by Dan Hanganu and Cote Leahy Cardas

Visitors enter the building through a grand atrium that reveals the full internal height of the roof. This is located within the former church nave, and leads through to shelving stacks, reading areas and study desks.

Lofty church in Quebec transformed into a library by Dan Hanganu and Cote Leahy Cardas

The largest of the two extensions sits over the footprint of the demolished former presbytery to accommodate staff offices and community event spaces.

Lofty church in Quebec transformed into a library by Dan Hanganu and Cote Leahy Cardas

"This separation of functions means that the community hall can be kept open outside library opening hours, while the spectacular and monumental volume of the nave is preserved," said the designers.

Lofty church in Quebec transformed into a library by Dan Hanganu and Cote Leahy Cardas

The walls of this block feature an assortment of clear, silk-screened and coloured glass panels. The roof drops in height for a small section before meeting the old church, allowing the two volumes to appear visually separate.

Lofty church in Quebec transformed into a library by Dan Hanganu and Cote Leahy Cardas

The small front extension satisfies a requirement for an emergency escape staircase and is finished in the same tinted glass.

Lofty church in Quebec transformed into a library by Dan Hanganu and Cote Leahy Cardas

Photography is by Stéphane Groleau.

Here's some information from the design team:


Monique-Corriveau Library, enlargement and conversion of the St-Denys-du-Plateau Church

The Monique-Corriveau Library, housed in the Saint-Denys-du-Plateau church, is an exception, and in a rather unusual way. It is a tribute to the career - exceptional for her time - of the Quebec writer whose name it honours. This mother of 10 children, to each of whom she dedicated a book, was the author of numerous children's books and winner of several literary awards.

Lofty church in Quebec transformed into a library by Dan Hanganu and Cote Leahy Cardas

The St. Denys-du-Plateau Church, a remarkable creation of the late architect Jean-Marie Roy erected in 1964, was part of this renewal (second Vatican Consul), at once architectural and religious.

Converting and expanding such an eloquent example of modern Quebec architectural heritage is a very delicate operation which must be approached with respect and humility. Saint-Denys-du-Plateau Church deserves this special consideration due to its unusual, dynamic volume, which evokes a huge tent inflated by the wind and anchored to the ground with tensioners.

Ground floor plan of Lofty church in Quebec transformed into a library by Dan Hanganu and Cote Leahy Cardas
Ground floor plan - click for larger image

The nave houses the library's public functions, with shelves and work and reading areas, while the addition contains the administration and community hall. This separation of functions means that the community hall can be kept open outside library opening hours, while the spectacular and monumental volume of the nave is preserved, since the architectural concept is to transform the space into a model of spatial appropriation as a reinterpretation of the interior.

Lower floor plan of Lofty church in Quebec transformed into a library by Dan Hanganu and Cote Leahy Cardas
Lower floor plan - click for larger image

To accentuate the fluidity of this volume, the solid soffit above the window has been replaced by glass panel which allows each beam to visually slip seamlessly to its exterior steel base, - a revelation of visual continuity.

Upper floor plan of Lofty church in Quebec transformed into a library by Dan Hanganu and Cote Leahy Cardas
Upper floor plan - click for larger image

The volume replacing the presbytery and community hall occupies the same footprint and was executed in clear, silk-screened and coloured glass panels. It is separated from the library by a void, marking the transition from old to new. At the front, extending the structure of the choir-screen and the canopy, a code-required emergency staircase is housed in a coloured glass enclosure signalling the new place, dominating a new parvis, reconfigured with street furniture, trees and other greenery. Building on transparency and reflection, the architects have made a strong statement with colour at the ends of the building, an allusion to the vibrant, bold colours of the 1960s, which contrast the whiteness and brilliance newly captured in the remarkable form of the original church.

Section of Lofty church in Quebec transformed into a library by Dan Hanganu and Cote Leahy Cardas
Section - click for larger image

Location: 1100 route de l’Église, Québec [Qc] G1V 3V9
Name of client: Ville de Québec, arrondissement Sainte-Foy – Sillery - Cap-Rouge
Architects: Dan Hanganu + Côté Leahy Cardas Architects
Architecte of the church Saint-Denys-du-Plateau (1964): Jean-Marie Roy
Architect in charge: Jacques Côté, Sébastien Laberge,
Design Team: Dan S. Hanganu, Gilles Prud’homme, Diana Cardas, Sébastien Laberge
Team: Pascal Gobeil, Martin Girard, Marie-Andrée Goyette (CLC), Olivier Grenier, Martine Walsh, Anne-Catherine Richard, Marc Despaties (DHA)

Long section of Lofty church in Quebec transformed into a library by Dan Hanganu and Cote Leahy Cardas
Long section - click for larger image

Structure: BPR
Mechanical/Electricity: BPR
Acoustician: Audiofax
Contractor: Pomerleau
Artists: Claudie Gagnon
Project size: 4400m2 (3 levels)
Cost: $14.7 millions
Date of completion: Occupation autumn 2013

  • LOW

    Super cool public space.