Montreal's birthday gift: City to revamp exotic biodome for 375th anniversary

by Kim Megson | 12 Aug 2016

The first renderings of Montreal’s planned new biodome have been released by architecture studio KANVA.

The dome, which has been part of the city’s natural science museum Space for Life since 1992, is being extensively revamped as part of Montreal’s 375th birthday celebrations.

KANVA won an international competition for the project in 2014 after creating a concept design to “rethink the relationship between mankind and nature” and bolster the museum’s social mission to educate the public.

The renderings reveal the biodome will represent four ecosystems of the Americas: the Tropical Rainforest, the Laurentian Maple Forest, the Gulf of St Lawrence and the Sub-Polar Regions (Arctic and Antarctic). The new dome will host over 4,500 animals from 250 different species, as well as 500 plant species.

The architects have reorganised the public spaces on the main floor to liberate the grand hall. A new mezzanine level will be added above the re-designed Sub-Polar ecosystem to make use of the biodome’s height, create a new observation point and better frame the ceiling structure. New passages from two of the ecosystems will service this level to provide a more diverse route through the attraction.

To minimise the need for demolition of existing infrastructure and the ecosystems already in place, the dome’s new skin will be created using a flexible white material that can stretch around different forms, contrasting with the existing concrete architecture as “a bold intermediary” between the building and its ecosystems.

“The overall revitalisation strategy is one of insertion within a living organism; the continuous curved wall fluidly wraps each ecosystem like a skin, acting as both container and contained,” said KANVA in a statement. “Drawing upon the biodome’s history of movement, the floor to ceiling wall sweeps through the interior space, serving as a canvas that accompanies visitors through the many pathways and the new central hub.”

In addition to the biodome, Space for Life – which is operated by Muséums Nature Montréal – has an insectarium, a botanical garden and a planetarium. The museum, which receives almost two million visitors a year, is located within Montreal’s Olympic Park, and the biodome was originally built as a velodrome for the 1976 Olympic Games.

The dome is scheduled to close in September 2016 for construction to begin before reopening next year. Canadian studio NEUF architect(e)s are also collaborating on the project along with structural engineers NCK.

Montreal  Canada  biodome  KANVA  NEUF architect(e)s  Space for Life  1976 Olympics  Montreal Olympic Park  architecture  design  attractions  
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The first renderings of Montreal’s planned new biodome have been released by architecture studio KANVA. The dome, which has been part of the city’s natural science museum Space for Life since 1992, is being extensively revamped as part of Montreal’s 375th birthday celebrations. KANVA won an international competition for the project in 2014 after creating a concept design to “rethink the relationship between mankind and nature” and bolster the museum’s
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The biodome will represent four ecosystems of the Americas, including the Sub-Polar Regions / KANVA
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