Abbatial Church of St-Benoit-du-Lac, 1994
Church for an existing Benedictine Abbey in the Eastern township of Quebec
Saint-Benoît-du-Lac, Quebec
Mention, Order of Architects of Quebec, 1995
First Prize, Limited design competition, 1989
This project, inserted into the existing context of a Benedictine monastery built in the early 20th century, illustrates the architectural principle of historical superimposition in which a new construction is built upon an existing one, and contributes by the successive layering to the enrichment of the complex. In agreement with the intent of the original architect, Dom Bellot, as analysed by Nicole Tardif-Painchaud, our proposal does not try to «bring alive the past but rather to understand its significance in order to express its essence in a contemporary manner».

The entire church is organized about the liturgical requirements of the Benedictine monastic life and particular emphasis is placed upon the sanctuary and the altar. A horizontal progression of natural light within the nave culminates with a vertical shaft of light in the sanctuary which descends a shower of cables suspended from above, thereby translating the mystical spirit of this place of contemplation and communion. The walls of this elevated apse are pierce by tall, narrow slits which offer worshippers a filtered glimpse toward the sky and the infinite.

The structure is an assemblage of metallic elements which spring forth from existing masonry arches. These metal columns, anchored to the ground by the heavy masonry, progressively disengage themselves to form the supporting framework for the roof, producing an effect of skeletal tightness appropriate to traditional flying-buttresses. The main façade in granite expresses the main volume of the church and is extended vertically by a bridge, evocative of traditional abbey architecture connecting the existing northern bell tower and its belvedere to a new smaller tower to the south. The bridge continues the monastic ritual of the promenade allowing the contemplation of the exceptional beauty of the surrounding landscape from new vantage points.
2 500m2