KANVA’s redesign of the Biodome Science Museum in Montreal, in collaboration with NEUF architect(e), strikes an immersive balance between people and nature while focusing on climate change and understanding its effects.
Built for the 1976 Montréal Olympic Games, the structure is located on Canada’s most visited museum island. KANVA, which won the international competition held in 2014, undertook the Biodome, Planetarium, Insectarium, and Botanical Garden design.
KANVA has reintroduced the splendor of the Montreal Science Museum-Biodome, which makes it possible to immerse visitors in more than one ecosystem.
The architects were inspired by ecosystems as complex as the building and collaborated with multiple disciplines in each intervention.
The concept of architectural heritage was brought to the fore in the building, which aims to inspire visitors to understand environmental problems. By enlarging the existing entrance, it was aimed at visitors to appreciate the existing scale. Thanks to the huge skylights, the building started to benefit from daylight.
After reaching the huge open space, a living layer of the pure white biophilic design was revealed. The cladding is stretched between the cantilever and triangular beams and wrapped around the structure. This layer, which evokes the feeling of infinity, aims to strengthen the visitors’ sensory experience.
Focusing on the journey itself, the design features dynamic passages. Five ecosystems in the Biodome, home to more than 250,000 animal and 500 plant species, draw visitors’ attention to the line behind the sight, sound, smell, and touch. On the route inside the Biodome, visitors can visit the Tropical Rainforest, Laurentian Maple Forest, and St. Lawrence Bay; after the Sub-Antarctic Islands, they reach the 10-meter Labrador Coast.
In ecosystems connected by automatic doors, visitors are exposed to the natural environment’s climate, smells, and sounds without seeing anything as they pass through the beads. The walkways lead to a new mezzanine that offers aerial views of the diverse ecosystems and pure white core. The new mezzanine floor houses interactive educational exhibits and elaborate machinery to protect the facility’s delicate ecosystems.
“Our mandate was to enhance the immersive experience between visitors and the museum’s distinct ecosystems, as well as to transform the building’s public spaces,” said Bebawi, a partner of KANVA and the project’s lead architect. “In doing so, we proudly embraced the role that the Biodome plays in sensitizing humans to the intricacies of natural environments, particularly in the current context of climate change and the importance of understanding its effects,” he added.
Architects: KANVA, in collaboration with NEUF architect(e)s
Area: 15000 sqm
Surface Area: 35,000 sqm
Manufacturers : 3M, Zone Display Cases, Barry, Béton projeté MAH inc., Goodfellow, Reynolds Polymer Technology, Serge Ferrari, Sollertia
Co-Concept Architect: Tudor Radulescu
Co-Concept Architect, Project Lead Architect: Rami Bebawi
Lead Project Manager: Minh-Giao Truong
Architectural Skin, Project Manager: Olga Karpova
Collaborator: Azad Chichmanian
Photographs: James Brittain, Marc Cramer, Mathieu Rivard