Should heritage government buildings be thinking about (spatial) democracy?

Quebec City, Canada – The National Assembly of Quebec’s new reception pavilion is the first addition its site – Quebec City’s late-19th-century Parliament Building – in more than a century. Multidisciplinary firm Provencher_Roy designed the 5,100-sq-m pavilion in collaboration with GLCRM Architectes as part of an overarching initiative to modernize the institution’s infrastructures and facilitate access for the general public.

Due to the location’s heritage status, the contemporary intervention had to be executed exceptionally carefully. The architects inserted the pavilion – built completely underground – on each side of the central axis, which aligns the main entrance and gardens of the Parliament gardens. Viewed from the front, the addition is completely concealed: using the existing monumental staircase, a new entrance to the pavilion itself was created. ‘[Our team] opted for a sensitive and completely integrated intervention,’ says Provencher_Roy co-founder Claude Provencher.

The reception revolves around a 300-sq-m spiral ramp that, beyond functioning as a structural fulcrum and technical fixture, forms a scenographic trail outlining Quebec’s history. A series of images is illuminated beneath perforated panels as visitors make their way through the space. The ramp delineates at its centre, where the ‘agora’ stands – a circular space for civic gatherings. An overhead oculus window illuminates this area, framing the central tower of the National Assembly.

Above all, the new reception is a space to express the democratic values at the heart of the institution. Programmed spaces along the ramp allow the public to not only discover the ‘evolution of Quebec’s democracy, but its functioning in real time’ in a modern, accessible and museum-like setting.

Location 1045 Rue des Parlementaires, Quebec, QC G1A 1A3, Canada

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