The end of the Second Vatican Council in 1965 spurred a wide-ranging renewal of the Catholic Church. One aspect of the institution’s modernization can be seen in the churches that were built in the years following. When designing the St. Denys-du-Plateau Church in the Québec suburb of Sainte-Foy, architect Jean-Marie Roy (1925-2011) seems to have been inspired not only to break free of previous sacred architecture norms, but also those of modernism itself.
The origami-like structure, with its steeply pitched roof and aerial campanile couldn’t be further from the functionalism of the modern canon. On either side, the roof reaches to the ground on beams evocative of tent stretchers, leaving a windowed gap lighting the nave. Substituting stained glass windows for clear glass on all four sides signals openness and transparency. Completed in 1964 just as Vatican II was nearing its conclusion, this was a modern church for a renewed Church.
Deeper societal changes were however also at work in Québec during the 1970s. The “Quiet Revolution” saw the secularization of many key institutions in Québec, such as education and social services. Congregations dwindled and churches closed their doors, opening the question of the reuse of such spaces. In Québec, several have since been converted into libraries.
In May of 2012, a colloquium organized on this topic listed more than a dozen ongoing projects to convert former churches to library spaces in the province only. Among those projects was the transformation of the St. Denys-du-Plateau Church into Bibliothèque Monique-Corriveau, replacing a nearby smaller modernist library built in 1967-68 by Gauthier, Guité & Roy, now demolished.
By then, the church had been closed for a number of years and was slowly deteriorating. A 2011 storm damaged the campanile and rendered the area unsafe. The transformation of the building required extensive intervention. Led by Dan Hanganu & Côté Leahy Cardas Architects and completed in 2013, the adaptive reuse of the former church is respectful of its original form.
The addition of two glass cubes on either end of the nave pay tribute to the spirit of openness that inspired Roy.
- Plante, Jacques (2013). Architectures de la connaissance au Québec. Les Publications du Québec. pp. 218-221.
- Monique Corriveau-Library / Dan Hanganu + Côté Leahy Cardas Architects. Archdaily, March 18, 2014
- Griggs, Callie (2014). St Denys du Plateau Church is reinvented as Monique Corriveau Library, Quebec. Knstrct, March 13, 2014
- Bibliotheque Monique Corriveau-Library by Dan Hanganu + Cote Leahy Cardas Architects. World Architecture, March 13, 2014.
- Ville de Québec. Fiche d’un bâtiment patrimonial: Bibliothèque Monique-Corriveau. Répertoire du patrimoine bâti.
- Otis, Martin (2012). Transformation de l’église St-Denys en bibliothèque – état des travaux. Québec urbain, July 29, 2012
- Rousseau, Louis (2005). Grandeur et déclin des Églises au Québec. Cités, 2005/3 (n°23), pp. 129-141
- Baillargeon, Stéphane (2011). Jean-Marie Roy 1925-2011- L’architecte de la modernisation tranquille. Le Devoir, November 9, 2011.
- Dubois, Martin (2009). Architecture municipale à Québec : 100 bâtiments publics. Les Publications du Québec. pp. 162-163
- Noppen, Luc et al. (1990). Québec monumental, 1890-1990. Septentrion. p. 133
Library detail pages are primarily a place for me to collect information I gather on the libraries I visit, and are frequently updated. None of this should be considered authoritative, I am not an architect, nor a historian. If you notice something incorrect, please let me know!