Quai des Cageux - Promenade Samuel-De ChamplainEdit profile
For its 400th birthday, Quebec City got its waterfront back. The Quai des Cageux Visitor Centre project is a part of the Promenade Samuel-De Champlain Linear Park – a waterfront restoration project that reactivates Quebec City’s access to St. Lawrence River and revitalises its coastal landscape.
Throughout the 19th century, St. Lawrence River banks were a lively, bustling theater of activities revolving around lumber exploitation and shipbuilding. The very name - Quai des Cageux – refers to the fearless lumberjacks’ restless dance on an endless sea of wood logs.
Deeply anchored into Quebec’s collective memory, the story of this important period, decisive in the evolution and transformation of coastal landscape, inspires the morphology of this restoration project. While borrowing its substance from the history of Quebec’s early modern times, it is precisely from the straightforward modernity of these audacious industrial endeavors that the project draws the simplicity and strength of its expression.
This singular expression is carried into a singular material – wood. In its materiality and morphology, the project refers to both the harbor vernacular, and to the lumber pilings that characterised Quebec’s ports for decades.
Respectfully remaining within the historic Quai Irving footprint, the project merges into the shoreline promenade and extends further northward to Champlain Boulevard, creating the western entry to the linear park project. The rehabilitated timber deck of the quay is a generous public gathering place throughout the year. Defined and shielded to the south-west by a planted wind-screen, the Quai des Cageux may become one of the stops of Quebec’s cross-river shuttle-boat, connecting bicycle networks on both sides of the river and further activating this belvedere space.
The belvedere’s public timber deck space is articulated by two new built structures: a lower, lengthy Quai des Cageux visitor pavilion and its observation tower.
Clad in wood, the single material resolving both the inside and the outside skin of the building, the Pavillon des Cageux is an assembly of a generous multifunctional hall with a carefully orchestrated set of covered outdoor spaces, all directly overlooking the river. Seamlessly extending outward onto the belvedere’s open areas, the centre’s 250 m2 are to accommodate a variety of exhibits, events and seasonal festivities related to the overall Samuel-De Champlain linear park. The tender silence of the pavilion’s bold wood volumes is balanced with the transparency and permeability of its glazed mail hall.
Sitting on the belvedere’s river edge to the south, the observation tower brings visitors 25 metres above the river, creating a stunning panoramic window onto the river, the bridges and the new linear park. The tower, with its steel structure and latticed timber flanks, refers both to historic pier towers and to the lumber pilings characteristic of the 19th century port lumberyards.
The Quai des Cageux revives the imaginary of a river pier and of its intrinsic structures, and turns it into a local visual anchor and light beacon - a significant newcomer to the constellation of industrial relics dominating local landscape silhouette and vistas.