Spread across three bucolic landscapes in Quebec, a trio of modest new pavilions by Anne Carrier Architecte are elegantly deferential to their cultural heritage sites. Introducing vital new amenities, the contextually attuned buildings integrate the natural and human-made – and they do so with panache. The subtly expressive architecture stands out for how well it fits in.
The three pavilions are part of Anne Carrier’s specialized – and growing – portfolio of public buildings in Quebec parks. Commissioned by the Quebec government’s park agency and local tourism authorities, these projects exemplify the firm’s understanding of the terroir.
An hour and a half northwest of Quebec City, the historic Seigneurie des Aulnaies village overlooks the Saint Lawrence River. It’s a majestic landscape, one defined by a Victorian mill and manor house. Seamlessly incorporated into its milieu, the new Visitor Centre emerges from the terrain as a rustic stone gabion wall topped by a wild-grass green roof.
While the wall nods at its 19th-century neighbours, the structure resolves at a glassy, light-filled facade. The sleek glass is a pleasant contrast to the rough texture of the wall and the untamed tall grasses stretching across the sloped roof.
Just past the wall, a second volume overlooks the historic mill, while the gap between the two structures opens up views of the countryside. Sharing a streamlined design language – and an angled roofline – the two buildings read as a graceful whole.
An hour’s drive east of Montreal, the striking landscape of Mont-Orford National Park unfolds in evergreen tree-lined mountains and pristine lakes. On Fraser Lake, the Opeongo pavilion provides washrooms, water-sports equipment rental, a first-aid station and a reception area that doubles as a small gathering space.
Opeongo consists of a trio of volumes linked by an L-shaped roof. The volumes are divided programmatically, with the open corridors in between giving the pavilion a certain permeability. The exterior is clad in dark, weathered cedar, which is complemented by the smoother, lighter cedar of the roof’s soffits. The interplay of tones amplifies the open spaces and lends the impressively thin roof an almost weightless appearance.
The smooth transition between indoor and outdoor spaces is complemented by the juxtaposition of opacity and transparency: the wood-slatted facades face the road and parking lot, while the glazed facades look out onto the lake. It all feels breathable and harmonious.
Just a few kilometres west of Opeongo, the Bonnallie Service Centre overlooks Mont-Orford’s Lake Stukely. Like Opeongo, the pavilion uses a material palette of light and dark cedar, with a form defined by permeable volumes below a sleek, floating roof. Meeting the road with a one-storey volume, the building opens out to a deceptively large two-storey complex.
The lakefront site’s sloping topography makes the relatively bulky pavilion an unobtrusive presence. Sculpted into the landscape, Anne Carrier’s two-storey Bonnallie Service Centre houses a more complex program. While mechanical spaces occupy much of the footprint, an open reception area – offering equipment rental and a small shop – spills out onto a spacious patio, with light cedar tones creating a warm and unified atmosphere throughout.
Outside, a terrace of stone gabion walls and native plantings extends the public space, leading visitors down to the water. From the lake, the warm interiors light up against the dark wood cladding in the evening hours – even the mechanical rooms and storage areas shine like lanterns behind the cedar slats. It’s a subtle and unexpected ornament that’s almost beautiful in the right light.
A trio of park pavilions by Quebec’s Anne Carrier Architecte demonstrates an uncommon sensitivity to their natural contexts.