After four years of work, the recent inauguration of Student House of the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS) unveiled a signature building which enhances an entire neighbourhood in the Griffintown district, Canada.
Inspired by an icehouse that once stood on the site, the crystal-like volume is remarkably light, open and airy. The mixed-use programme was unified into a singular sculpted volume, its offsets interacting in a refreshing way with the more sober and introverted campus buildings. The massing was carved out on its south and east sides to create space for a future park that extends inside the building’s public programme, maximising sunlight and offering the community an abundantly glazed atrium that showcases student life within.
On the street side, it offers mediated views on the upper functions through an intriguing five-storey high image digitally imprinted onto the glass curtain wall. The image is an abstract representation of the energetic network of ideas on the campus evoking the innovative spirit and outreach to the world, which ÉTS intends to project.
Inside, the atrium is conceived as a landscape in continuity with the exterior park. An impressive cantilevered truss, recalling the railway bridges and industrial structures in the area, lifts its grand staircase above the outdoor space on its south side, offering glimpses of Montreal’s cityscape from the park.
A spiralling promenade weaves through the atrium under a warm, hovering topography made of birchwood slats. This inhabited circulation interconnects multiple zones used in everyday student life, each endowed with distinct light and acoustical qualities.