Saint Roch de l’Achigan is a small farming community eighty kilometres north of Montreal. The community’s historic convent, built in 1881, is a landmark visible at great distances across the surrounding countryside. Located in the village center, the old convent is a building of important heritage value, a symbol of community and a source of pride for Saint Roch residents.
The recycling of this historic structure as the city hall and municipal offices re-establishes its presence at the center of community life. The project creates a dialogue between the restored heritage building and a contemporary addition housing a new entry lobby, an elevator and a generously glazed stair-tower. Creating a new entry on the lateral street is part of an overall site strategy that relocates parking to the back of the building and frees up the front of the site for a new formal garden.
As a foil against the traditional elements of the historic structure - a mansard roof, limestone masonry, a sculpted wood gallery - the addition is conceived as a series of interlocking rectangular volumes. The vertical arrangement of these volumes creates an asymmetrical tower that echoes the old convent’s central bell-tower. Combining artisanal materials – copper and slate – with contemporary materials such as plate glass, aluminum and sheet steel, the addition provides a spacious, naturally lit lobby and up-to-date vertical circulation.
The new city hall respects the interior organisation of the original convent, centered on an entry hall and a two storey chapel. An ornate plaster vault, decorative columns and stained-glass windows in the chapel have been restored and the space has been repurposed as the municipal council chambers.
Official name of the project: Saint Roch-de-l’Achigan City Hall
Type of project: Institutional
Location: 7, Dr-Wilfrid-Locat Nord, Saint-Roch-de-l'Achigan, Quebec, Canada
Client: Municipality of Saint-Roch-de-l’Achigan
Project manager: Richard de la Riva
Design architect: Richard de la Riva
Project team: Melanie Morris, Brigitte Boudreau, Cesar Vivanco and Sergio Clavijo
and electrical engineers: Leroux Beaudoin Hurens
Budget: 2 920 000 $CA
Area of project: 16 800 ft2 / 1560 m2
Project end date: 2012
AFFLECK DE LA RIVA
Founded in 1995 by Gavin Affleck and Richard de la Riva and based in Montreal, Canada, Affleck de la Riva Architects believe that quality environmental design is an agent of social change and a key element in fostering citizenship, social equity, and healthy lifestyles. The firm provides services for the design and construction of institutional, commercial and residential projects and has also developed specific expertise in urban design and the restoration of historic structures.
For more than twenty years, through a wide range and scale of projects including research, competitions, and built work, Affleck de la Riva has been exploring the potential of history and landscape to generate contemporary architecture. An interest in the craft-based traditions of noble materials has led to a number of building restoration commissions, including several important historic monuments. One cannot build contemporary architecture without having assimilating the lessons of the past.
The quality of Affleck de la Riva’s work has been recognized by numerous international publications (France, England, United States, Spain, China, Romania, South Korea, Turkey, etc.) and invitations to lecture in Europe and across North America. The firm is the recipient of more than a dozen professional distinctions including first prize awards in three open architectural competitions, a Governor General of Canada Award, two Awards of Excellence from the Order of Architects of Quebec, and an Award of Excellence from the Canadian Architect magazine.
Gavin Affleck and Richard de la Riva are active members of Canada’s architectural community. They have taught at schools of architecture across the country and contributed to numerous committees and organisations.