Saucier + Perrotte and HCMA sculpt stadium for Montreal park

The roof extends back and folds to ground level to become spectator stands.

MONTREAL – After scowling at an unsightly landfill, choking on smog from smokestacks and being pelted with chunks of dynamited limestone for over a century, neighbours of the Saint-Michel Environmental Complex might welcome the occasional din of a football match. Since 1988, the former quarry has been taken over by the city council and transformed into an expansive ecological park. Two Canadian firms, Saucier + Perrotte and HCMA, were recently commissioned to design an athletic facility for a narrow plot at the edge of the park that would offer both indoor and outdoor football courts.

In keeping with the geological topography of the park, the stadium was conceived ‘as a layer of mineral stratum’, according to the architects. Rather than artificially distinguishing interior and exterior with a conventional building-and-field delineation, a single, steel-clad structure organically unites the two in the manner of a rock formation rising from the earth. Starting as an overhang for the entry plaza, the structure folds back over a glazed volume to house the indoor court, then continues towards ground level to become spectator stands for the outdoor court.

The team collaborated with engineers from Nordic Structures on the framework of this assembly. Billed as the first of its kind, its cross-laminated timber (CLT) material consists of wooden boards layered orthogonally to form a mesh, becoming denser in areas where more support is needed while appearing spontaneous in composition.

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