Designing off the beaten track

Designing off the beaten track

The health benefits of time spent in nature have been proven time and again. When a nature park is thoughtfully preserved, the renewed environment can also contribute to the dynamism of urban life. Landscape architecture can play an important role in creating sustainable and easily accessible green spaces for the residents of large cities like Montreal.

The human experience, nature preservation, and an in-depth knowledge of the Montreal region helped the team in their approach to the revitalization of three nature parks: Bois-de-L’île-Bizard, Bois-de-Liesse and Pointe-Aux-Prairies.

With a goal of replacing the lookouts, footbridges and trails in these three parks, the project required in-depth analysis and reflection to revise the master plans, while taking into account the fragility of the existing flora and fauna. Environmental, heritage, social and economic analyses were used to identify the various environments and their ecology, ranging from wetlands to a former quarry.

Each intervention was guided by a strategy that focused on the relationship between the built elements, the user and the space. The layouts, viewpoints and atypical routes create a common thread in each sector to encourage an engaging and intuitive visit to the sites. The composition and signature elements invite a progressive discovery integrating architecture and landscape architecture.

The choice of materials, forms, textures and colours create a coherent whole that also adapts to seasonal changes. The location and orientation of the structures and furniture encourage interpretation and observation while diverting visitors from sensitive areas. The team found ways to contribute to the protection of nature parks – while enriching the user experience – through an approach that promotes the growth of biodiversity in these natural environments.

These three revitalized parks provide a soothing contrast to urban life by offering large green spaces that users can discover on foot, by bicycle, on snowshoes or on cross-country skis… while momentarily forgetting that they are on the island of Montreal.

Awards and mentions

Winner - Landscape Architecture, Public
Architecture MasterPrize
Gold Winner, Landscape Architecture of an Environmental Project
Grands Prix du Design