Just try to guess at this dramatic setting’s previous life. Before Montreal design studios Sid Lee Architecture and Ædifica transformed it into its current spectacular state, the site housed, of all things, a parking lot. Now the multi-sensory Salon Urbain for Montreal’s Place des Arts, the 475-square-metre space is filled with modular furnishings that easily configure to accommodate the meetings, talks, gallery exhibitions and parties that animate it. Located beside the new concert hall, it is designed to help aficionados retain the feeling of a performance after the music stops. “It really comes to life during events,” says Martin Leblanc, partner at Sid Lee.
That is likely not too difficult, since the venue contains more than a few jaw-dropping elements: the high-gloss, liquid-like bar, expertly curved to the shape of a sound wave (“a hymn to art,” as the designers describe it); the translucent red curtain, designed to evoke a theatre; the grand ceramic columns; and the multi-hued mosaic bathroom, with its curvaceous stainless steel sink.
But the true drama queen has to be the backlit geometric tile treatment, made of folded steel sheets, that encases the walls and curves upward to cover the ceiling, mimicking the bronze cladding on the nearby Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier. Though the tiles are identical, they are installed to suggest movement, like lightning crackling through the ceiling. And if that were not alluring enough, the white palette contrasts against coloured LED modules on each tile that adjust in hue to instantly modulate the mood.