Build Us Up: Saint-Jean-Eudes Library

Saint-Jean-Eudes Library, Québec City

BGLA architecture + design urbain

Photography: Stéphane Groleau

In redeveloping a private school’s former chapel into a library, the designers tackled the space’s austere double-height volume by zeroing in on the circle: a shape with deep religious as well as natural connotations. Here, the shape’s primary expression to users and visitors is in the form of a new circular mezzanine, a strong gesture suspended in the vast height of the chapel that increases spatial and visual interconnections in all directions while offering views to the exterior that were previously impossible given the high position of the chapel windows.

Clad with “Merisier Condor” (Condor birch), a purpose-designed natural wood veneer (named after the school’s sports team), the mezzanine touches the exterior walls at only two anchor points, aiding in even light dispersion.

The circle motif was continued with a curved staircase; a new round reception desk, finished with the same veneer and created as a counterpoint to the mezzanine; and colourful “working bubbles” carved out of the thick wall and covered in acoustic materials to aid students’ concentration.