Chevalier Morales Architectes
Stephan Chevalier and Sergio Morales, MIRAC
Construction Budget: $8.2 million
The partly transparent and strangely familiar shape of the annex of the Maison de la littérature gives an open, contemporary feel to the Institut Canadien de Québec, creating a dialogue between the past and present of the historic neighbourhood of Old Quebec City (Vieux-Québec). This annex and the work done on the interior of the existing building bring the institution fully into the 21st century with its e-books and Twitter poems. From the outset, we also felt it was symbolically appropriate to move part of the creative program outside the church’s religious space.
"This transformation of and addition to a historic church into a literary cultural centre provides a complex spatial experience that engages with the past while imbuing the building with a new present-day relevance. By finishing everything uniformly in white, the structure of the historic architectural elements is brought forward. Against that structure, there is a play between the original and the new interventions. The plan of the new annex organizes the more cellular elements of the programme, freeing the space of the original church to be a more fluid interconnection of open spaces. The jury carefully deliberated over the radical approach taken to the historic church; the final structure evokes rather than restores the past. However, this re-invention offers a new spatial identity for an abandoned church."