An ephemeral village organised by La Pépinière animated disused urban spaces

Village au Pied du Courant organised by La Pépinière. Photo Lorenzo Saroli-Palumbo

MONTREAL – As summer came to a bittersweet end, so did the summer pavilions and festivals. One that holds particular interest is the Village au Pied-du-Courant organised by La Pépinière | Espace collectifs on the riverbed of Montreal. An amalgam of micro-architecture all on one site, it exuded everything that one hoped for in an ephemeral urban space.



Since 2014, the under-utilized urban space has been revitalised annually. Each year, a select few are chosen after a competition to design various corners of the Village. It is a community-based project where designers and engineers directly shape the project. Highlighting only local talent, it encourages an entrepreneurial spirit and an authentic space for urban experimentation.



This year for its third edition, the Village saw itself evolving into a diverse playground bringing together architects, emerging and established, designers, graphic designers, and painters for an inter-disciplinary experience. With the theme of a boardwalk in mind, the designers went to work to produce a series of pavilions.

Ferris by Maison 029

Visitors were greeted by a 5 m structure resembling the base of a Ferris wheel – simply named Ferris – and then entered a sandy dune with wooden platforms linking the other structures. A main stage consisting of two shifting disks held by a lattice-like wooden structure and shaded by a lightweight and ornamental mesh hosted performances that went on throughout the entire summer. Mini-rail imitation wagons were laid out in the sand to pay homage to the 50th anniversary of Expo ’67 which used similar transportation. The crown jewel overlooking the entire Village was Mirador designed by Le Pictographe. A tall scaffolding-based structure painted in turquoise captured glances and was used to admire the lights of the adjacent bridge and the firework festival.

êkhô, the main stage, by Table Architecture

Yellow Minirail, a series of seating arrangements, by Lisa Vo and Keyan Ye

To give coherence to the entire Village, design firm ¡A MANO! painted all the structures by hand in vibrant colours, giving a warm and festive touch.

Entropie, a mobile kitchen project using only renewable energies, designed by Nouveau studio with rounded benches, named Loco, designed by Obiekt

Adventure Train, a colourful playground, by Atelier Viaduc

The charm of this yearly event is how it invites a diverse crowd that encompasses all ages. People interpret the installations in different ways - sitting, chilling and playing being the main activities. The interactive nature of the space speaks to Montrealers. ‘Because the city is pro-active and innovative and there isn’t enough funding in these sorts of events, people find creative ways to do their own thing. Although the city is ageing and old, people want to get into it and create really beautiful new spaces. That’s the sort of energy that fills the city,’ explains Maison 029, the trio behind Ferris.

Billboard: German Design Council
Billboard: German Design Council

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