The Carmelite Chapel of Montreal
Thursday 11 Sep 2014


Montreal's Carmelite Chapel made its home somewhat out of the way of the city's core in 1875. Its solemn architecture reflects the medieval roots of the Carmel tradition, save for some of the chapel's neo-gothic details. Éclairage Public work revolved around the renovation of the plastered walls and the ceiling's marouflage panels.

Because Carmelites devote so much time to silence and prayer, the chapel's lighting scheme had to allow for different atmospheres that would lend themselves to reading or meditation, while also adapting to occasional celebrations. It was necessary to ensure the Carmelites could easily control their own lighting system.

The lighting design expresses the architecture's quality and volume by emphasizing its verticality and creating a consistent luminous flux on the ceiling. The lit columns provide a deliberate contrast that highlights the ornamentation from the base of the arch and tapers off as it climbs. The altar and the tabernacle are at the centre of the perspective.

Functional lighting comes from top of the columns, where two 3000K LED projectors are installed, with a fixture on each side of the nave and choir. Some of the sources are directed at the pulpit, the lectern and the altar. The latter gets cross-lateral beams for better task lighting levels. Volume lighting also comes from the top of the columns, where 3000K linear projectors cross the nave while giving the ceiling presence in a uniform manner, highlighting its patterns. The lighting from the base of the columns accents the sculpted elements, refining the column and its verticality.

The windows, false windows and stained glass are lit with 4000K linear projectors, their optics outlining the frames and enhancing their visual congruence with the nave. On the altar, two 3000K linear projectors upwardly graze the wall, making the canopy stand out. For its part, the canopy is outfitted with 2700K linear projectors that backlight the ornamental spikes and accentuate the "Virgin and Child" on top of the altar.

Two projectors on the choir accent the tabernacle with a soft 2700K glow, while two 3000K linear projectors soberly illuminate the two chapels' transepts. A 4000K LED strip outlines the recumbent effigy of Sainte-Thérèse-de-l'enfant-Jésus. And finally, under the gallery's ceiling, recessed 3000K LEDs provide general lighting.

Architects/designers: Josette Michaud, architect, Beaupré et Michaud, architects
Monika Kuhnigk, architect, Beaupré et Michaud, architects
Project Manager: Josette Michaud, architect, Beaupré et Michaud, architects
Engineers: François Brunel ing, Caron, Beaudoin et associés
Contractors: Construction Gilbert Dumas
L'orange Électrique
Lighting Design: Gilles Arpin, Jean-Pierre Smith, Claude Alarie, Maiko Sato

Photographer: Pierre Bélanger