Construction sites can be a nuisance especially in bustling cities. But there are ways to make them seem more tolerable, as seen in the City of Montreal's “Vivre le chantier Sainte-Cath!” competition. Its lively name refers to Montreal's St. Catherine Street — a major commercial artery — that is renovating its infrastructure along several blocks for the next four years. Different segments of the street will be closed during construction, but pedestrian traffic and nearby businesses will remain open.
The City sought creative design interventions that can help reduce the negative impacts of an ongoing urban construction site. Participants had to address issues like: creating a unique urban experience within the construction site, directing the flow of people, reducing disruptions associated with the construction work, informing users of future developments, and more.
At the end of the two-stage competition, the winning commission went to “IMAGO” by locally based practice KANVA.
Read on for more.
KANVA's concept behind IMAGO was inspired by the development process of an organism from its embryonic state to its final stage. The proposal is a series of temporary biomorphic inflatable structures that will “shelter, protect, animate, articulate, and [offer a striking visual identity for] the construction site”. Depending on what type of work is taking place, IMAGO will act as “the interface between pedestrians and the construction site”.
“Each modular catenary arch is composed of an inflatable structure that is anchored to an approved concrete construction fence. Each arch is hinged at the top to allow lateral movement to overlap the work; moving wider when the work is occurring along the street, and narrower when the work is occurring along sidewalks.”
During roadway work, IMAGO spans above the construction site, therefore bringing light and ventilation and guiding pedestrians as they traverse through the site. When work is being done along the sidewalks, IMAGO will act as a shelter to create an immersive experience for pedestrians as they walk on the street, or to the neighboring businesses via bridges overlooking the repair work below. The immersive environment can also become a gathering spot for public events.
IMAGO’s robust design is inspired by the physiology of a butterfly wing. “The diagonal members create diamond voids, some of which are filled with historic images that narrate the evolution of St. Catherine Street and the constant transformation of the city over time. Each historical image is demarcated by a blue filter that remains transparent; the street beyond can still be deciphered chronicling the past and present simultaneously. The voids without images allow for natural ventilation.”
“The modules are erected gradually by attaching one to another growing until IMAGO covers the extent of the work being performed. The modularity of IMAGO makes each component affordable; the number of units can be easily multiplied based on the budget. Since the main material is air, the modules can be handled easily and stored in a fraction of their original volume.”
Find more project images in the gallery below.
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