The Municipality of Saint-Louis, located in the heart of the Montérégie region, chose to recycle the dilapidated building of the Fabrique de la Paroisse. Left unmaintained and underused for several years, the vocation and constructive components of the building had reached the end of their working life. The conceptual reflections were guided by the sustainable development premise that a coherent transformation of the existing building would eventually provide citizens with a versatile, comfortable, accessible, and affordable civic building.
Optimization of the interior spaces takes advantage of the existing glulam vault and forms a large enclosure enveloping the different spaces organized according to a cohesive strategy respectful of the original organization of the building. The large gathering spaces are built into the nave, while the administrative functions, such as the former chaplain’s quarters, are in the heart. A few steps away from the village’s elementary school, the new community hall and library provide an opportunity to free up space for the growing school population. Along with careful attention to the management of public and private circulation, simple gestures such as the leveling of the grounds and a modulated interior ramp in the old altar ensure universal accessibility to the public floor areas. This will ensure that current and future generations benefit from the building’s resilience to the changing demographics of the village.
Maintenance deficit and energy costs are the main issues for religious buildings in Quebec. The existing building’s situation allowed for the preservation of most of the structural components and noble interior finishes. The dismantled brick cladding could be reused in the local industry, thus reducing the environmental impact of the demolition. Cost-effective strategies were implemented to improve the energy performance of the envelope. The original structure of the building is now protected by a high-performance exterior insulation and waterproofing system and a new exterior cladding that respects the vernacular character of the site. The Eastern cedar cladding and metal roofing reflect the agricultural language of the region, and the interior spaces benefit from abundant natural light that seeps into the heart of the project through stained glass windows that follow the shape of the vault. Strategically lit, the wood decking diffuses a warm light throughout the community.
The Saint-Louis Municipal Service Center consistently demonstrates that the challenges of building upcycling support sustainable values and that strategic actions can meet economic constraints without compromising the place’s memory. The citizens of yesterday, today, and tomorrow can now gather, reminisce, and build a future together…