2014 – Parc olympique: Réenchanter les espaces publics

1 January — 4 June 2014

  • Description

    The UNESCO Chair in Urban Landscape and the students of the Landscape Architecture School identify strategies to reinvent the Olympic Park’s public spaces.

    The Olympic Park_a Place at the Dawn of a Renaissance

    In the fall of 2013, the CUPUM led a 13 week urban design workshop on the subject of the Olympic Park with the 4th year graduating students of the Landscape Architecture School of the University of Montreal. Entitled The Olympic Park/Reenchanting Public Spaces, this workshop enabled the development of visions of the future for the requalification of the Olympic Park that comprise three types of design propositions. Propositions on the entire scale of the area (macrodesign), on the scale of specific areas (microdesign), as well as propositions on the principles and criteria of design.

    In the wake of the presentation of the results of this workshop in front of a jury (and confronted with the quality of the results obtained), the Olympic Park mandated the CUPUM to produce a synthesis of the student propositions in order to fuel its reflection on the future of the site.

    This synthesis aims to present, in a succinct and schematic manner, the different alternatives of preservation, valorization or development proposed by the students along with the issues, objectives, principles and criteria of design that support them.

    More specifically, it enables the characterization of:

    • the identified issues of the Olympic Park;
    • the proposed themes and the programming elements associated with these themes;
    • the implemented principles and design criteria.

    This synthesis relies on the CUPUM’s recognized expertise including that which was developed through the synthesis of the propositions of the international idea contest YUL-MTL: Moving Landscapes, which focused on the city entrance between the Montreal-Trudeau airport and the city centre. It is also part of a long term collaborative approach with the Olympic Park that began with the fulfillment of a first landscape-related mandate of the Olympic Park in 2012 by the Chair in landscape and environment (CPEUM) as part of the "Comité-conseil sur l’avenir du Parc olympique" reflection.

    Synthesis of the Student Propositions

    The synthesis of the student visions led to the identification of the planning issues and strategies linked to the site and the installations of the Olympic Park.

    Issues addressed:

    • Accessibility
    • Activity
    • Environment
    • Integration on the local scale
    • Comfort
    • Site scale
    • Identity
    • Esthetics

    Proposed intervention strategies:

    • Environmental strategy
    • Hydric strategy
    • Outdoor furniture
    • Wayfinding strategy
    • Activity strategy
    • Circulation
    • Architectural strategy
  • Propositions

    Olympic Park
    Mercier - Hochelaga-Maisonneuve - Montréal (Canada)

    Stratégie no 01 – Stratégie environnementale

    Principles and Criteria of Intervention

    1.1 Vegetation of the Site

    The interventions of vegetation of the site are principally responses to environmental issues and out of concern for the comfort of the users. Apart from countering the heat island phenomenon, the site’s vegetation enables a transformation of the grey and dull aspects of the concrete slab and creates more convivial and enjoyable spaces for users. Many different propositions built on this theme, ranging from ground covers to dense tree plantings, by way of alignments of diverse trees specifying which plant type to privilege (colour, maintenance, ambiance, etc.).

    1.2 Community Gardens

    The creation of community gardens is primarily a response to environmental concerns as well as issues tied to the integration of the Olympic Park within the scale of the neighbourhood. This type of intervention often takes on the form of small plots or raised bed gardens with varied and colourful plantations. The image conveyed is that of a convivial place where people convene around the culture of food, plants, and flowers. Ultimately, this intervention helps foster community involvement in the planning, management, and maintenance of the site. 

    1.3 Green Roofs

    The creation of green roofs is primarily a response to environmental concerns and an intervention aiming to reduce heat islands. This practice allows, by the same token, to create elevated convivial spaces from which it is possible to vantage points of interest on the Olympic Park. The important contribution in vegetation also enables the creation of cool and shaded spaces designed at a human scale. In that sense, the issues of comfort and visual accessibility are also addressed by this intervention.

    1.4 Implementation of an Internal Waste Management Strategy

    The proposition that presents the implementation of an internal strategy to manage the waste of the site suggests the design and construction of a waste sorting centre in order to respond to environmental issues. In particular, by favouring a local service and integrating vegetation in the treatment of waste.

    1.5 Creation of Wetlands (Bio-Retention)

    The creation of wetlands addresses environmental concerns essentially by planting native plants and by adequately planning the typography. This type of environment brings life to the site because of the animals and birds that it attracts. In the propositions, this type of intervention included various forms of natural-looking marshes as well as more structured basins.

    Olympic Park
    Mercier - Hochelaga-Maisonneuve - Montréal (Canada)

    Stratégie no 02 – Stratégie hydrique

    Principles and Criteria of Intervention

    2.1 Creation of Channels and Pools for the Management of Surface Waters

    The environmental issue related to the management of surface water run-off was addressed by an analysis of dominant winds and the creation of built or natural channels, slopes, and retention pools. This type of planning arrangement is frequently associated with water’s recreational use; the purification of water is planned in order to reuse it in fountains, mirrors of water, artificial lakes, and sanitation service points.

    2.2 Integration of Fountains

    The alignment of the fountains of water can help define a course to follow. A concentration of multiple fountains can shape a striking entranceway, a gathering place, or a landmark. Plays on the light, height or width effects of the jets are used to create different atmospheres and impacts. The fountains and the relation to water create pleasant and recreational places that serve visitors and residents alike. 

    2.3 Integration of Mirrors of Water

    The creation of a thin layer of water at ground level enables the reflection of elements of the surrounding landscape (identity, esthetic), and the creation of spaces that are, at once, recreational and act as gathering places (activity, comfort). The integration of a mirror of water touches upon all of the issues identified for the Olympic Park’s site. This type of design element is often associated linked to the presence of a fountain or misting space. In the winter, it offers the potential of being converted into a skating rink. 

    2.4 Integration of Misting Spaces

    The use of water in all of its forms and the relation to water in all development projects allows the creation of spaces that are attractive and act as gathering places, as well as atmospheres on a human scale. In this specific case, the use of mist enables the creation of ephemeral cool spaces to be used by the visitors of the site and the people of the neighbourhood during heat waves. The use of mist also aims to compose exceptional viewpoints of the Olympic Park and its infrastructure.

    Olympic Park
    Mercier - Hochelaga-Maisonneuve - Montréal (Canada)

    Stratégie no 03 – Mobilier

    Principles and Criteria of Intervention

    3.1 Design of Modular, Moveable and Removable Furniture

    The removable furniture elements were principally designed with comfort, accessibility and the environment in mind. Many propositions elaborated solutions looking to bring the site back to a human scale through the use of modular (horizontal and vertical) partitions in accordance with the diversity of activities at the Olympic Park. The colours, the materials and the textures were also subject to comfort and esthetic analyses.

    3.2 Design of Integrated Furniture

    Integrated furniture enables the creation of permanent spaces of rest and relaxation for the users. Particular attention must be paid to its comfort and its esthetic treatment (colours, materials, textures, etc.). Many strategies also opted for the integration of an ecological dimension into the design of the furniture, for instance by allowing the installations to illuminate themselves through the integration of photovoltaic panels, or by incorporating planters into the furniture.

    3.3 Showcase of Commemorative Elements

    For the purpose of commemorating the 1976 Olympic Games, their icons and their infrastructure, diverse strategies were imagined. Some propose to highlight the flags, others the torch, the Olympic rings, or even specific areas such as the place des Vainqueurs (The Victors’ Place). In any case, the targeted objectives are mainly the identity of the site and the creation of welcome areas or landmarks.

    Olympic Park
    Mercier - Hochelaga-Maisonneuve - Montréal (Canada)

    Stratégie no 04 – Stratégie de signalisation

    Principles and Criteria of Intervention

    4.1 Illuminated Wayfinding

    The use of light and its lighting strategies may help highlight certain structures of the site, indicate a course to follow, and create gathering places or landmarks. This strategy renders the site more accessible in the nocturnal context and gives the site a particular esthetic and identity. The illuminated wayfinding may also contribute to the integration of the surrounding neighbourhoods to the site by way of, for instance, the use of lit elements that increase in intensity as you approach the Olympic Park.

    4.2 Wayfinding Using Markings and Signs

    Wayfinding using marking and signs responds, mainly, to the issues of accessibility, integration on the local scale and esthetic. This type of intervention includes the use of markings using various colours, textures, plants, and materials, be they on the ground, on walls, on the ceiling, inside or outside. This wayfinding strategy also considers all types of displays, interactive or not, aimed at improving the user’s experience, and promoting the activities of the site. These types of elements allow, among other things, the creation of visual points of reference, and the linking of the site with the neighbourhoods via continuous marking directly in the street.

    Olympic Park
    Mercier - Hochelaga-Maisonneuve - Montréal (Canada)

    Stratégie no 05 – Stratégie d’animation

    Principles and Criteria of Intervention

    5.1 Integration of Sports Pavilions and Fields

    Indoor and outdoor soccer fields, outdoor skating rinks, race tracks, training equipment and courses were imagined for the whole of the Olympic Park. Nevertheless, it is the East portion of the site that is most frequently exploited to this effect, creating a sports hub along Viau street. The suggested sports facilities mainly respond to the activity and identity issues. This sports-related component also enables the commemoration of the 1976 Olympic Games. 

    5.2 Creation of Terraces and Public Places

    The creation of terraces and public places primarily aims to fuel activity and pleasant ambiances of the human scale. This type of intervention also makes the site more accessible. Concretely, these new spaces take on the form of lawned terracing, concrete parvises innovatively integrating patterns, textures and lighting effects, or even of small public places punctuated by parasols, chairs, tables or any other outdoor furniture, be it removable or not.

    5.3 Creation of Stages and Multifunctional Performance Spaces

    The creation of stages and performance spaces takes on differents forms on different scales. On a large scare, certain proposals suggest the building of grandstand-like public places, of which the lowest level can transform into a multifunctional stage. Others imagine using the existing infrastructure walls as projection areas. On a smaller scale, the alignment of the furniture elements and the use of light allow the creation of more intimate performance spaces (theatre, etc.). 

    5.4 Creation of a Commercial Hub or Street

    The commercial development is approached from the perspective of adding services to the neighbourhood and contributing activity to the Olympic Park. The commercial services and proposed visits include a fresh produce market, health food restaurants, and businesses linked to sports, relaxation, or food and dining. They take on the form of traditional buildings, repurposed shipping containers or vehicles, such as the trucks used for “street food”.

    5.5 Creation of Reception Pavilions

    The creation of reception pavilions aims to make the site more accessible via the construction of a building strictly dedicated to welcoming users, providing information and offering services. This type of pavilion was designed so as to gather, in one location, all of the elements necessary in order to understand the site (orientation) and to discover its activities. Carrying the site’s identity via its esthetic, a constant concern for innovation was expressed. In the different proposals that were collected, the constructions manifest in various forms ranging from the simple roof to the kiosk (ex: repurposed shipping container), or to the double-height pavilion acting as a lantern for the entirety of the site.

    Olympic Park
    Mercier - Hochelaga-Maisonneuve - Montréal (Canada)

    Stratégie no 06 – Circulation

    Principles and Criteria of Intervention

    6.1 Better Pedestrian Circulation

    In order to create better circulation within and towards the site for pedestrians, numerous strategies were elaborated according to present and future needs, which were based on an analysis of the site visits, planning documents, interviews, and characterization studies. The principal elements that were examined and redesigned as part of this intervention were the speed and the orientation of the routes (axes, winding paths, etc.), the layout of the rest, shade, comfort and activity areas (furniture, vegetation), wayfinding (interactive bulletin screens), as well as the materials used for the ground slab.

    6.2 Modification and/or Extension of the Existing Urban Network

    The extension of the adjacent neighbourhood networks into the site itself allows a formal integration on a local and residential scale. Generally, this extension entails the construction of new dwellings, the creation of pedestrian crossings, the reduction of residual mineral space, etc. On a finer scale, some proposals imagine a continuity of the urban network through a perpetuation of one of its key elements⁠—the alignment of its trees, for example. Ultimately, the neighbourhoods’ identity becomes apparent on the site of the Olympic Park itself.

    Olympic Park
    Mercier - Hochelaga-Maisonneuve - Montréal (Canada)

    Stratégie no 07 – Stratégie architecturale

    Principles and Criteria of Intervention

    7.1 Elimination of Certain Physical Barriers or Furniture Elements

    This intervention proposes the elimination of physical barriers such as bins, ramps or topographical tiers that impede on the circulation of the site. The result of this proposal mostly allows for better physical and visual accessibility. 

    7.2 Modification of the Site’s Topography

    The modification of the topography equally targets the issues of accessibility, activity and comfort. Taking inspiration from the multilevel topography present on the western side of the site, many proposals imagine a ground that transforms into partitions, rooftop decks, or even reveals parts of the underground structures. The movements are more natural, and the routes incorporate viewpoints of interest and visual links between the different locations of the site.

    7.3 Alteration of the Metro Station Entrance Building

    The confined space of the Pie-IX metro station does not reflect nor does it exploit the immensity of the Olympic Park’s site. Because of this fact, certain proposals suggest to transform, and even to eliminate the metro station entrance building in the interest of exploiting the relation between the esplanade and the underground. This intervention is mainly a response to the accessibility issue. 

    7.4 Connection of the Esplanade and the Underground

    In order to exploit the network of underground spaces present on the site, this intervention proposes to make them visually and physically more accessible. The proposal relies on the modification of the underground network’s usage in order to include both parking spaces and mixed office spaces with glass facades. Thus multiplying the links between the inside and outside. These new viewsheds are also made possible by means of complex topographic manipulation. The intervention is mainly a response to the accessibility issue.

    7.5 Construction of a Bus Station

    The construction of a bus station is principally a response to the accessibility issue for out-of-town visitors and sports teams. Its street-level entrance encourages access and use to public transport to reach the site, and also addresses the issues of site activity and environment. In addition, this intervention contributes to the creation of a welcome centre, and to the creation of a human-scaled living environment.

    7.6 Integration of Belvederes

    The integration of belvederes enables the creation of places to pause, contemplate and rest along the routes. They spawn visual opportunities and exceptional viewpoints on noteworthy elements or on the site as a whole. The design of the belvederes, as works of art, is also of utmost importance.

  • Team

    Principal Researcher
    • Philippe Poullaouec-Gonidec
      Professor Emeritus École d’urbanisme et d’architecture de paysage / Associate Researcher UNESCO Chair in Urban Landscape (CUPUM) / Membre fondateur UNESCO Chair in Urban Landscape (CUPUM) / Chair of Landscape and Environment (CPEUM)
    • Sylvain Paquette
      University of Montreal / Full Professor School of Urbanism and Landscape Architecture / Principal Researcher Chair of Landscape and Environment (CPEUM) / Associate Researcher UNESCO Chair in Urban Landscape (CUPUM)
    Research Agents
    • Valérie Gravel
      Student School of Architecture / Architectural Intern N/A
    • Patrick Marmen
      Chargée de cours École d’urbanisme et d’architecture de paysage / Chargé de formation pratique École d’urbanisme et d’architecture de paysage / Research Agent Chair of Landscape and Environment (CPEUM)
    External Collaborator
    • David Heurtel
      Chief Executive Officer Parc olympique de Montréal
    • Alain Larochelle
      Directeur marketing Parc olympique de Montréal
  • Issues

  • Complementary resources

  • Partners

    Financing partners

    • Régie des installations olympiques (RIO)

    Other partners

    • UNESCO Chair in Urban Landscape (CUPUM)
    • Chair of Landscape and Environment (CPEUM)
    • Faculty of Environmental Design
    • School of Landscape Architecture
    • Parc olympique de Montréal
  • Gallery