EVOQ Architecture’s Landscape and Urban Design Team took the yard of an old monastery in Quebec and turned it into a green playground for children. In fact, the Ursuline Monastery in Old Quebec is one of the few large conventual complexes, dating from the establishment of the French colony founded in the 17th century. It is now a National Historic Site, devoted to education since the arrival of Ursuline missionary nuns in 1639. As a result, the design team took its history and created landscape components to reflect on the various stages through its time.
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To start off, the Ursulines donated part of their garden to create a larger playground for the school. It is a project that began in fall 2020. Recently, it finished with a new playground, soccer field, basketball hoops and green space.
Because the monastery is located on uneven terrain of the steep promontory of Cap Diamant in Old Quebec, they took utmost care to avoid disturbing the soil. The monastery is housed within old fortifications and went through urban densification in recent years. The designers wanted to protect this unique character of the space. However, they also wanted to avoid damaging the roots of mature established trees, some of which date back to the 17th century.
Additionally, excavation for the playground was severely limited. Designers worked with structural engineers to anchor playground equipment to bedrock at the surface. It avoided extra digging. Archaeologists also supervised during excavation to preserve any artifacts found. The area has been known to give up treasures in previous digs.
A new running track was placed around nine apple trees of the old orchard, providing shade for children while reflecting the site’s rich landscape heritage. Because the land is so steep, the design team was able to spread the play areas over five levels. The slopes are equipped with rainwater catch basins to minimize runoff into the sewer. On top of all of this is the beautiful views of Old Quebec from every angle.
The play area includes a synthetic soccer lawn, turnstile games, ball games and multisport surfaces. Stone steps connect spaces along the natural slope of the field, which creates a space for outdoor educational activities.
“It is now possible for students to run circling the heritage orchard, or climb ropes that bring them closer to the copper roofs of adjacent buildings, making their play and laughter an integral part of the richness of this exceptional site,” said EVOQ Architecture.
Images via Deve Média