Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal is a historic Montreal landmark with significant cultural and religious value, entwined with a breathtaking natural site. This project aims to improve access for millions of annual visitors by creating a new indoor procession path connecting pilgrimage services; introducing a multifunctional pedestrian area; and showcasing the Oratory’s rare, 61-bell carillon.
The project addresses the Oratory’s vision to offer a place of welcome at the heart of the city, a new urban icon to accompany visitors on an unforgettable journey.
Form Highlighting the site’s rich heritage, the architectural intent is to frame the carillon as a new and iconic landscape element and an acoustic enhancement, a musical instrument in its own right. The mapping of the bells’ sound shapes the indoor ascension.
The indoor journey unfolds into an architectural gesture in wood and natural light, guiding visitors upward toward the Basilica through spaces of welcome that offer discovery, magnificent views, shopping and refreshments.
We developed architectural language around The Instrument, whose sound accompanies visitors on their upward journey; The Rift, a concrete incision into the slope of Mount Royal that respects the site’s character and vocation; and The Topography, from which pavilions emerge through gabion faces to become terraces, parklets and green roofs.
In this project, architecture acts as a musical instrument, the site itself as its audience, ultimately rendering the visitor experience multisensory and unique.
Aiming for LEED-Silver certification, the project greens 15% of traffic and parking areas and employs geothermal solutions. Its water retention and canalization systems double as visual and experiential devices, for instance water flowing over a skylight and beneath a transparent floor. Excavated rock is reconstituted as gabion faces that filter natural light and reduce solar gain, acting metaphorically like stained glass, revealing Mount Royal’s essence.