Montreal’s Biodome Science Museum to be rejuvenated

Gail Taylor
Thursday 04 Aug 2016

Two Quebec practices have got together to transform Montreal’s Biodome using a sinuous design that curves its way around four eco-systems

V2com reports that Montreal-based collective KANVA in collaboration with NEUF architect(e)s, also of Montreal, have won a competition launched by the city’s Biodome Science Museum. The Biodome is an integral member of Space for Life, a series of museum pavilions that showcase natural sciences to the public, and was originally built as the velodrome for the 1976 Olympic Games. It was later converted into a natural science museum in 1992, and the competition to revitalise it was launched in 2014.

The Biodome is comprised of four ecosystems of the Americas, each a microcosm of living organisms; the Tropical Rainforest, the Laurentian Maple Forest, the Gulf of St Lawrence, and the Sub-Polar Regions. KANVA and NEUF’s overall revitalization strategy is one of insertion within a living organism; a continuous curved wall fluidly wraps each ecosystem like a skin, acting as both container and contained. 

Drawing upon the Biodome’s history of movement, the floor to ceiling wall sweeps through the interior space, serving as a canvas that accompanies visitors through the many pathways and the new central hub. 

Pure, both in its form and colour, the white skin isolates the ecosystems to allow a better understanding of the site, contrasting with the robust concrete architecture of the velodrome, and becoming a neutral, yet bold intermediary between two important elements – building and ecosystem. The skin guides the visitors through their journey and invites introspection before and in between visits to the sensory-stimulating ecosystems.

The new conceptual strategy creates more immersive and intimate experiences within the ecosystems, between human and nature to educate and bring more awareness to visitors during their journey. The plan also reorganizes many of the public, extra-ecosystem spaces on the main floor to liberate the grand hall and open up a new central hub to the ceiling. 

Making use of the Biodome’s height, a new mezzanine is added above the re-designed Sub-Polar ecosystem, framing more intimately the impressive ceiling structure and offering other vantage points and immersive experiences for visitors and staff. New passages from two of the ecosystems service this mezzanine, and offer visitors a more diversified trajectory and additional points of rest through their educational journey.  

This skin is physically expressed through a textile that can curve and take on many forms, preventing unnecessary demolition of already existing infrastructure and fragile ecosystems. Its flexibility also allows it to occupy residual and unusual spaces to ultimately unite the eclectic peripheries of each environment and redirect the focus and experience of the users.

This Competition was published by WAN Business Information team 07/01/2014. You can view the original brief here. To access our live database with latest global architectural competitions and project leads click here.  

WAN’s Business Information service can help you target latest global architectural competitions. You can start your 7 day free trial here or contact our team at tenders@builtenvironmentmedia.com

Gail Taylor

Key Facts:


Want to submit your project to World Architecture News?

Contact The Team