Immersed in, and highlighted by, nature: Montreal’s Théâtre de Verdure
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Immersed in, and highlighted by, nature: Montreal’s Théâtre de Verdure

A renovation in contemporary style with an emphasis on history


Immersed in, and highlighted by, nature: Montreal’s Théâtre de Verdure
By Editorial Staff -

By being immersed in the natural setting of La Fontaine Park, Montreal’s Théâtre de Verdure actually catches the observer’s eye. Occupying the heart of this green space in the Canadian city, Théâtre de Verdure symbolizes a positive relationship between landscape and architecture, between natural and built spaces. On the one hand, the life of the theater is linked to its natural setting, while, on the other, the theater has expanded and extended nature.

The architects behind this arts and culture hub are from the Lemay studio. Working to create a closer relationship between the theater and park, they’ve revitalized and reinterpreted the previous building, which first opened in 1956. Underlying the project was an aim to reaffirm the identity and heritage of this place through a more inclusive and pluralistic vision than in the past by incorporating the external public space into the design. The result is an open, accessible building for art and culture lovers that hosts numerous events and shows with – as in the past – free admission.

The close relationship with nature – a vital element of the project that’s discernable from every part of the theater, including both its indoor and outdoor spaces – is most obvious on the hill where the stalls are located (which seat up to 2,500 people) and on the surface of the lake, where the stage frames the landscape. The complex nevertheless invites visitors to explore both its interior and exterior spaces, which offer new and different ways to view the setting. The low vegetation and lawns don’t obscure the theater but actually enhance it and make it more eye catching.

“Working on the Théâtre de Verdure was an incredible opportunity to offer its visitors an architectural, landscape, and artistic experience. In an approach where the boundaries between the two became blurred, the project developed like a huge set design involving the landscape through architecture,” explained Eric Pelletier, senior partner at Lemay and lead designer on the project.

The reinvented soul of the site goes beyond the idea of a simple theater, creating a new destination that’s fully integrated into nature for people to rediscover not only the history of the Théâtre de Verdure, but also its park and lake, which are fundamental elements of the overall project.


Sustainability and connection with the site

Montreal’s Théâtre de Verdure, Lemay ©Adrien Williams, courtesy of Lemay

Sustainability was central to the project from the outset, with a Net PositiveTM framework used to minimize environmental impact. Locally sourced materials such as Douglas fir, a native species to Canada, were chosen in preference to ipe, a Brazilian species often used in projects of this kind.

Beginning with the Green Room (a terrace overlooking the lake), each space is open to the outdoors and has a relationship with the natural environment. At the same time, the architecture itself expands and extends the green spaces.

“Throughout the project, we were keen to reaffirm the theatre’s heritage identity and we took care to develop new interventions compatible with the memory of the site,” said Marie-Ève Parent, associate and discipline director in landscape architecture at Lemay.

>>> Also read the editorial “Free and Adaptive: Libraries for the People” published in THE PLAN 148.


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Location: Montreal, Canada
Architect and landscape: Lemay
Mechanical and electrical engineering: Bouthillette Parizeau
Stuctural engineering: Calculatec Inc.
Civil engineering: Marchand Houle
Acoustic specialists: Atelier 7Hz
Forestry engineering: Luc Nadeau
Scenography: Trizart Alliance
Regulations: Technorm
General contractor: Axe Construction

Photography by Adrien Williams, courtesy of Lemay

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