Creating a distinctive architectural signature for the Mont-Orford National Park in Quebec, Canada was an exciting challenge for the architectural team. However, they would need to win over visitors accustomed to traditional chalet-style visitor centres.
The Opeongo Service Center, next to Fraser Lake, serves swimmers and water sports enthusiasts. It replaces a facility that burned down in 2016. The 230m2 building comprises three distinct structures. The main space, mostly transparent, includes a reception area that expands into an outdoor patio overlooking the lake. The second structure is open on a seasonal basis, and it serves mainly for watersports equipment storage; it is also where rentals can be arranged and where users have locker rooms. The third structure is directed to beach activities, with washrooms and a first-aid station.
The pavilion’s form and location resulted from a careful study of the site and the activities that take place in and around it. Another major consideration was direct access to views of the lake.
In keeping with the Society of Outdoor institutions in Quebec’s (SÉPAQ) wishes, wood was used everywhere, and this helped the pavilion fit into the natural environment. A slim roof connects the structures, protecting users from direct sun and inclement weather. The openings are indicated by pale, smoother cedar, contributing to a coherent reading of the building.
“Whenever we get the opportunity to design a building in natural settings, we use the site’s features as our main sources of inspiration,” says architect Anne Carrier. In Parc du Mont Orford, her team opted for natural wood, as a structural element and as cladding, both interior and exterior.
Structural wood decking was chosen for its thinness and load-bearing capacity, enabling the architects to modulate the roofs with respect to sightlines and sun exposure. Dark cedar cladding was mostly used as rainscreen and to ventilate the seasonal buildings. Wood textures, hues, and variations transform the pavilion throughout the day. At night, the airy cladding makes the central area seem to glow in the night.