A regenerative approach to the coastline and its surrounding communities

A regenerative approach to the coastline and its surrounding communities

In 2023, the Commission de la capitale nationale du Québec held an international competition surrounding ambitious and unifying ideas for the Phase 4 enhancement of the east shoreline of the Saint Lawrence River in Québec City, located between the Baie de Beauport and Parc de la Chute-Montmorency.

Based on a rich variety of green and blue pathways interwoven with the city’s fabric, our proposal is a regenerative enhancement of riverside landscape through the protection of wildlife and plant habitats, as well as public space and urban corridor creation. Orchestrating a reunion between community and a coastline left inaccessible by road infrastructure for a half-century, the project completely withdraws vehicular traffic to create a multitude of intimate, physical, visual, and emotional links that evolve with the seasons and repair spatial fractures.

To transform the shoreline’s motorway embankments, our transdisciplinary team of landscape architects, urban planners, biologists, engineers, and a historian drew inspiration from the river’s lifeblood impact on locals for a sense of identity. The original riverbank reappears through sequences of renaturalized areas, floodplains hosting tidal and intertidal marshes, and appropriable greenspace. The design also reuses materials from demolished road infrastructure in its space development, including concrete and asphalt being used for a distinctive observation tower. Traffic is shifted to Boulevard Sainte-Anne to create a multimodal link of pedestrian-forward space, reserved cyclist lanes, a tramway and other sources of public transportation, and new low-density mixed-use developments. As a result, the riverbanks are freed for coastline development that would be linked to a variety of living environments for greater collective value and identity.

This experiential route incorporates a wide range of forms that recall the flowing currents of water and ice. A multifunctional pathway, belvedere and footbridges offer panoramic views, while parks, terraces, nautical launch points, ready-to-camp sites, a spa, and a natural pool create a setting of respite and connection.

Our vision also focuses on the potential of ecological restoration and rehabilitation. Where the road once ran along the river, seagrass beds and natural habitats for local wildlife are enhanced, and certain sections of land are remodelled to allow the tides in to create a varied topography of wetlands, ponds, foreshores, and ponds.

These ideas aim to bring coastal and urban environments together in vibrant coexistence of bold hydrological and ecosystemic dynamics reinforced by design. With increased mobility and accessibility, this concept for the fourth phase of the Saint Lawrence shoreline links the river to neighbouring areas while preserving and enhancing its natural environments.