In 1991, after more than a century of operation, Darling Foundry permanently closed its doors. The industrial building was abandoned for more than a decade before being transformed into a cultural and artistic centre: the Darling Foundry. Since 2007, Ottawa Street has been used as a complement to this interior space, providing temporary outdoor public space dedicated to visual arts.

Inaugurated in 2023, the Place du Sable-Gris reinforces the cultural and artistic vocation of this part of Ottawa Street. The name evokes the important heritage associated with the industrial history of Old Montreal. It refers to the early metal casting technique developed at the Darling Foundry, known as “Sable-Gris” (grey sand).

The layout of the square echoes the genius loci of the place by celebrating the neighbourhood’s industrial past in a contemporary manner. The large plaza, unified by a textured surface, is inspired by castings seen under a microscope. The event portal evokes the memory of the overhead gantry cranes that characterized the now-defunct industrial activities of the area. This contemporary artifact adds a third dimension to the public space and serves as a support for ephemeral art installations and performances.

The soft landscape draws on the exploration of urban wastelands and expresses the process of transforming urban and industrial environments into more natural spaces: highlighting the poetry of vegetation reclaiming the asphalt.

From its inauguration, citizens embraced the space as a gathering place and a meeting point in this densely built and rapidly transforming area.

The plaza acts as a receptacle for urban animation and various performances organized by the Foundry. During events, the public space yields to performances and installations.

On quieter days, the thoughtfully calibrated project elements give meaning to the place. The textured surface, an innovation unique to this project, intrigues and attracts attention, while providing a pleasing scale to the space. The wooden benches, placed in relation to the large maple tree, offer passersby a moment of respite. The yellow chairs allow for flexible appropriation of the space.

The entire project is laid out according to a framework to which all elements rigorously relate. Precise execution drawings and rigorous site supervision ensured the alignment of all components, contributing to the project’s durability and overall quality.

Location: 745 Rue Ottawa, Montréal, QC H3C 1R8

Design year: 2020-2021

Year Completed: 2023

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