Saint-Jean-Eudes School Library, Québec City

BGLA architecture + urban design, Montréal

Photography by Stéphane Brügger

Located in the high school’s old chapel and containing many traces of a religious past, including paintings, confessionals and an altar fence, the original library suffered from very little natural light and was cluttered and considered very unwelcoming by the students, hence a low occupancy rate. The mandate specified expanding the library by adding a mezzanine, fitting out meeting rooms, and designing both a creative space and a computer room. To improve on the existing austere look and to energize the original volume, a “circle” motif was introduced to the space in the form of a suspended circular mezzanine; a curved staircase; a new round reception desk finished with Condor birch, a purpose-designed natural wood veneer; and colourful “working bubbles” carved out of the thick wall and covered in acoustic materials to aid students’ concentration. By repainting the library volume in white, the diffusion of natural light reduces the need for artificial lighting, thereby reducing electricity costs.