Promenade Samuel-De Champlain
Promenade Samuel-De Champlain Quebec City, Quebec, Canada For its 400th birthday, Quebec City got its waterfront back. Promenade Samuel-De Champlain Linear Park bonds the river and the cliff - two icons of Quebec City’s identity - into a coherent, connected and active landscape facade to the capital city. The project reclaims a neglected infrastructural fringe into a generous public, leisure oriented naturalised environment, thus reactivating the city’s access to St. Lawrence River and revitalizing its shoreline. In one of its essential gestures, the Promenade project requalifies Champlain Boulevard from a highway into a landscaped, permeable urban boulevard. Drawing on the site’s unique history and genius loci, the project uncovers and showcases vestiges of natural and coastal heritage, while balancing the soft, luscious coastline greenery with the evocative artificial landscape. The project delicately weaves a sequence of diverse experiences and atmospheres, navigating from the boundless visual expanse of the river and the scale of the territory, to the tactile sensory experiences of the human scale. The experience of the sinuous 2.5 km course of the Promenade along the river is rythmed and diversified by four thematic gardens. Each of these singular, dense landscape attractors captures and magnifies the material and poetic qualities of local coastal environment. They celebrate the river moods, its mists, winds and sensory pleasures, as well as the hardness of the harbor and the memory of docklands' figures and archetypes. The rich, sublime atmospheres and layered textures are materialised as much with stone boulders, timber assemblies and corten steel thresholds, as with native plants and trees, and as with vapour haze, thick shade, mellow light glows and water reflections. The Quai des Vents spins St. Lawrence bird flocks into whirling, poetic light-weight wind sculptures, hovering over laminal stone coast massifs as they brave all of Quebec’s harsh seasons. The Quai des Hommes plays on man’s archetypal response to tame, frame and instrumentalise the water and the nature. The Quai des Flots captures the river’s grey waves and ice-brake patterns into the garden’s water walls and vivid springs, playing along the rich textures and geometries of Quebec granite. The Quai des Brumes veils deep cross-river views and its monolithic boulders in the ever-shifting mist. The Quai des Cageux area combines the visitor pavilion’s public pier, the leisurely river boardwalk and the Irving Woods’ natural landscape into a generous 4 Ha meeting ground. Each of the gardens offers a unique landscape assembly of local historic, recreational, ecological and cultural traits. These attraction nodes ensure that the project is vibrant, highly frequented, and integrated into the dynamics of surrounding communities. Immersed into an all-encompassing green tide, the poles are linked by a pedestrian and bicycle path, which acts as the connecting spine of the project. The project’s underlying, yet seamless achievement is in its strong contribution to the restoration of the uniquely rich and diverse, albeit fragile coastal eco-system. Preserved and integrated as living heritage, the existing vegetation was consolidated and complemented throughout the scheme by species native to St. Lawrence shoreline natural environment. The reinvigorated vegetation frames views and trajectories, and calibrates spaces and scales. Operating on a variety of scales, the urban furniture, all specifically designed for this project, sought to maintain the robust simplicity characteristic of maritime, harbor heritage, paramount to this site’s genius loci. The linear rhythm of benches and lights is complemented by freely disposed furniture, dotting the landscape as rafts in the sea of greenery. This pattern of a straight line blazing across diversified, soft zones takes a whole other life at night, as Samuel-De Champlain Promenade glows and reflects back into the St. Lawrence River. Honouring Quebec City’s 400th anniversary and drawing on this unique site’s history and genius loci, the Samuel-De Champlain Promenade restores and revitalises the bank of the St. Lawrence River along the territory of Quebec’s capital city, reactivating the city’s access to the river.


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