Laure-Conan Library and La Malbaie City Hall, QC

Located on the edge of the St. Lawrence River, La Malbaie was one of Canada’s first holiday resort towns. Its name, French for “bad bay”, comes from Samuel de Champlain and describes the many maritime mishaps related to the bay and its heavy rising and falling tides. The new Laure Conan Library and City Hall was inspired by this rich historical landscape and offers a contemporary architecture with a “story to tell”. The project’s main narrative focuses on the value of the site’s historic landscape as it symbolizes reconciliation between the present city and the history of the St. Lawrence River.


The dialogue between the city and the river, wood and stone, opacity and transparency, is central to the architectural concept of the project. Using contrasting outdoor materials, visual openings and structural features, the multipurpose building fully blends in with La Malbaie’s urban condition and natural landscape.

The site’s highly sloping topography that reaches towards the St. Lawrence River is one of the bases of the project. To embrace this dramatic site condition, the architects created two different entrance levels to access the building while integrating the library, the city hall and a multipurpose room in a very simple volume. The stone base positioned on the lower portion of the site hosts the city hall, while a wooden clad box rests on top, housing the library.

Reading, study, and consultation areas are all located along the façade with an expansive view on the river. Through the fragmentation of the two main masses, certain programmatic functions receive full views towards the city. The spaces nested between the river and the city offer a unique atmosphere.

The fragmentated volume of the library also reduces the depth of certain sections of the building, allowing complete transparency through the library, from Nairne and Saint-Étienne Streets towards the St. Lawrence. The library’s wooden volume extends over the principal outdoor staircase, forming a viewing device that frames the maritime landscape.

The plan of the library is organized to create an open space without structural columns. It is therefore possible to organize the library in many ways, increasing efficiency and flexibility. The multipurpose room has its own entrance, which makes it independent from the library and the city hall.

The architectural concept integrates several eco-responsible principles: the basic idea of compactness, energy savings, and the use of local resources. The project also encouraged local workers to become highly involved in the construction of the project. The abundant use of locally produced wood siding was justified given the crisis currently affecting the forestry industry in the province of Quebec.


Client : Ville de la Malbaie
Location : La Malbaie
Completion : 2011
Area : 2 055 m2
Budget : 6 M$
Architect : ACDF Architecture /  Bisson Architectes / Desgagnés Architectes
Photographer : Stéphane Groleau


2013 Architecture Prize from the conference of the library and information community of Quebec (ABQLA)

Laure-Conan Library and La Malbaie City Hall, QC 2018-07-18T16:02:41+00:00

Project Description