Casino du Lac-Leamy

Wishing to reinvigorate its image and position itself as an essential actor on the entertainment scene, Société des casinos du Québec mandated the Sid Lee Architecture & FCSD architecture + design consortium to lead an intervention strategy at Casino du Lac-Leamy in Gatineau. The casino presented major organizational challenges: its interior spaces were cluttered and undistinguished, devoid of hierarchy or landmarks. The architectural intervention therefore aimed to bring coherence to the space; open perspectives to better connect the spaces and identify their functions; and rework the vertical lines offered by the building.

An aquatic theme was chosen to develop a unique identity for the casino, located on the shores of a lake and surrounded by water. “The main staircase was brought to the middle of the central space, among the game tables and machines it connects to the restaurants and discotheques on the upper floors,” explains Martin Leblanc, architect and partner at Sid Lee Architecture. “Designed as a beacon visible from all around the casino, the stairs are dressed with a unique carapace composed of 595 backlit metal scales declined into 94 different models, reminiscent of fish skin and its changing reflections. An iconic architectural element, it centralizes all visual perspectives and asserts the space’s identity.”

The project was carried out in close collaboration with Lightemotion for an immersive lighting installation as well with Trizart-Alliance for the multimedia segment. Mandated by Loto-Quebec and the Gatineau casino, Lightemotion worked closely with the architects of Sid Lee Architecture and Fortin Corriveau Salvail Damphousse architecture + design to create a direct symbiosis between architectural elements and light. The result is an immersive experience that begins at the threshold of the casino and continues through each of the hotel’s different sections.

“The lighting comfort was one of the most important guidelines,” says Roupinian, Lightemotion’s president and designer. The primary objective is to provide lighting without disturbing, the experience of the Montreal firm in museum lighting design was put to good use. Thus, the light is always integrated  in the architecture elements.

“Just like a boomerang, architectural elements serve as reflectors to emanate light,” says Roupinian. “We have also found ways to break the light by using textures that are unnoticeable. It creates a soft lighting that allows visitors to feel like in a bubble.”

Thanks to their experience with the mega resort of the Revel casino in Atlantic City, Lightemotion was able to highlight each space by using light in a creative and innovative way. The company has also created a majestic structure with luminous scales that became the focal point of the casino. With its lighting finesse, the Montreal firm has managed to highlight the points of interest of this institution.

Lightemotion’s biggest challenge for this long-term project was the casino’s business hours; it is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. “It’s very difficult to do maintenance in a casino. We had to find a way to design lighting that requires no maintenance and has a perfect life span.” notes Roupinian. The Lac-Leamy Casino remained open throughout the duration of the renovations.