Located in the heart of Parc La Fontaine, the Théâtre de Verdure was once considered one of Montreal’s crowning jewels.
All shows were free for the public and included dance shows, films and concerts running from June 28 until August 26 every year.
That is until the theatre was closed in 2014 due to decaying facilities.
Now, architecture and design studio Lemay has worked with Montreal-based Axe Construction to bring it back to life following a complete overhaul of the famous theatre.
According to Eric Pelletier, the Lead Designer on the project, the studio used a “4-season concept that redefines the relationship between theatre and park, architecture and landscape, and the built and the natural.”
The theatre offers visitors an architectural, landscape, and artistic experience; Mr Pelletier said, “In an approach where the limits between the two became blurred, the project developed as a vast scenography of the landscape through architecture.”
Embracing a NET POSITIVE™ framework, all spaces open to the outside, “even the green room, a balcony that projects onto the pond surrounding the theatre,” according to Mr Pelletier, Senior Partner at Lemay.
Interventions were kept to a minimum on the site to increase the area’s vegetative cover and augment the theatre’s integration into the landscape.
Working with forestry engineer Luc Nadeau, local materials were preferenced, including Douglas fir, native to Canada, over ipe, a Brazilian wood species often used in similar structures.
From concept design in 2020 during the Covid lockdown, the theatre now has over 2,500 seats, including 2,000 in the stands and 500 on a grassy hill and has just finished its second summer season after several years.
According to Marie-Ève Parent, the redesign uses outdoor presence in the adjacent La Fontaine Park, which maximises stage views and surrounding greenspace.
Ms Parent is Lemay’s Associate and Discipline Director in Landscape Architecture and said the design accounts for visitors and passers-by “by inviting discovery, both inside and outside the site.”
It uses a “new green, modern, and lively public space that offers a vibrant place for lovers of arts and culture to witness unforgettable moments,” she said.
“Throughout the project, we were keen to reaffirm the theatre’s heritage identity, and we took care to develop new interventions compatible with the site’s memory,” explained Ms Parent.
The theatre is now accessed via an extended pedestrian path around the park’s water basin.
Meanwhile, Ms Parent said low vegetative cover and preservation of the canopy establish new views to make the theatre “pop within site, rather than shield it from view.”