2012 SAB Awards Winning Project - Bibliotheque Raymond-Lévesque, St. Hubert, QC


This project takes its inspiration from the natural qualities of its site: celebrating the forest; directing and distributing rainwater; and capturing the sun and the wind. These elements come together in a simple yet poetic expression of bioclimatic design.

The use of wood for the exterior brise-soleils was made possible through a heat treatment process [torrified] by Kisis Technologies which improved the durability.

From west to east the roof folds back and forth under the prevailing wind, creating a ‘flying carpet’ that animates the interior spaces. The narrow plan wraps around an atrium that facilitates both natural ventilation and the penetration of daylight. Solar shades along the glazed facades cast a filigree of shadows as the sun moves across the sky. Through this vertical veil of wooden slats, building users are invited to rediscover the beauty of the forest beyond. The slats are of roasted poplar. Roasting is a preservation technique, not widely used in Quebec, that allows the use of species which could not previously be considered for exterior applications.

The slats are of roasted poplar. Roasting is a preservation technique, not widely used in Quebec, that allows the use of species which could not previously be considered for exterior applications.
Stabilized during the roasting process, the wood was treated with UV protection and preassembled at the factory in 6m high modules for final assembly on site.

Vegetated roof surfaces, animated with seasonal colour and visible from the courtyard, capture rainwater before directing it to a large detention pond filled with crushed rock. This swathe of rock, in addition to reducing the burden on municipal storm water infrastructure, is reminiscent of a river bed further reinforcing the connection of the building to the forest.
The compact footprint of the building enabled the preservation of  a large number of existing trees. The close relationship with the outside and the nearby park promotes a feeling of well-being for the occupants. This relationship is not only visual, but acoustic and olfactory as well thanks to windows that can be opened.

Air quality and natural lighting were the principle concerns of the integrated design team, who recognized that user comfort depended greatly on these two elements. The orientation and the shape of the building help optimize natural ventilation simply and economically.
The passive ventilation system, which has 29 motorized vents and is divided into four separate zones, maintains comfortable conditions for about half the daily operating hours. An earth tube in the form of a well, together with a geothermal field provide the majority of the energy requirements. A high-efficiency boiler operates only when needed.

Lighting is perhaps the most crucial aspect in the design of a library because it is imperative to modulate the natural light to ensure the comfort of the users and the preservation of the documents. The vertical sun breakers made of roasted poplar not only help modulate the penetration of the exterior light but also are instrumental in controlling the interior thermal gains.

The glazed courtyard, together with strategically placed skylights, ensures high levels of daylight throughout occupied spaces. The penetration of daylight is particularly striking during  the winter months when sunlight is reflected off the snow covered ground into the reading areas. The daylighting strategy contributes to a significant reduction in the energy required for artificial lighting.
Additional energy savings result from the use of a high efficiency [70%] heat exchanger and heat recovery ventilator, as well as low energy consumption fluorescent lighting [T5 and LED], and a scan-controlled DLN.

Lastly, the library has been designed to be adaptable to future changes in use, and ultimately demountable. The courtyard plan allows for modularized flexibility, with partial reconfiguration being possible without affecting other areas of the building. Both the steel structure and the prefabricated envelope can be disassembled and their components reclaimed. Interior lighting is not fixed rigidly to the ceiling but instead mounted on modular furniture for maximum flexibility.

Projects credits:

  • Client  Ville de Longueuil
    Architect  Manon Asselin architecte + Jodoin Lamarre Pratte
    et associés architectes en consortium
    Structural  SNC Lavalin
    Mechanical  Martin Roy et associés
    Landscape Architect  Manon Asselin architecte + Jodoin Lamarre Pratte
    et associés architectes en consortium
    Contractor  La Corporation de Construction Tridôme
    Photos  Marc Cramer

Project performance

  • - Energy Intensity in MJ/m2/year = 501 MJ/m2/year
    - Energy savings relative to MNECB = 53%
    - Water consumption savings relative to model building = 40% [estimated]
    - Reclaimed and recycled materials by value = 19%
    - Regional materials [800km radius] by value = 22%

Jury comments: This is a great green building which integrates natural ventilation and daylighting strategies within a beautifully detailed high-performance envelope. The project demonstrates that ambitious performance objectives can be successfully synthesized with the highest aesthetic values to create a compelling work of architecture.

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