Kanva revamps former Olympic venue the Montreal Biodome

Architecture studio Kanva has redesigned the Montreal Biodome, a science museum in Canada, to reveal its original concrete arches and create new homes for its animal occupants.

The museum, which was originally an Olympic sports venue, contains four miniature ecosystems filled with plants and animals that visitors can walk through and explore.

The building used to be an Olympic velodrome

Designed by French architect Roger Taillibert and completed in 1976, the domed structure was designed as a velodrome. In the late 80s work began on converting the building, and it reopened in 1992 as the Montreal Biodome.

Kanva won the competition to undertake the Biodome Migration project in 2014. Migration was chosen as the name to reflect the animals moving to new enclosures and symbolise the museum's commitment to shifting attitudes around nature and climate change.

Roger Taillibert designed the building in the 70s

As part of the project, a four-metre-high clay cliff was built for macaws to nest in while a 15-metre-long ice tunnel was installed to create an immersive entryway for the arctic experience.

The complex renovation involved zip-lining fish over from pond to pond in pouches of water to clear the way for construction, while nine rope technicians rappelled down from the roof to install netting over the bird enclosures.

Kanva opened up the ceiling to the original roof

Kanva made the original roof a focal point of the revamp, removing a low ceiling insert and revealing the concrete vaults and the geometric roof glazing.

The reception hall is painted white to reflect the light from the roof and create a neutral space in between the ecosystem areas that occupy the majority of the building.

Walls of stretched white fabric divide this central lobby from the biodomes. As visitors pass between the fabric they can experience the smells, sounds and shifts in temperature before they see nature.

Kanva explained this partition system was informed by biophilia, a concept formed in 1984 by entomologist Edward O Wilson that theorises humans are soothed by the presence of nature.

Montreal Biodome's ecosystems represent different types of terrain found across the Americas. The Tropical Rainforest is full of parrots, piranhas and poisonous tree frogs, while lynx roam the Laurentian Maple Forest that's based on Quebec's woodlands.

The Gulf of St Lawrence recreates the space where the Great Lakes meet the Atlantic Ocean. A mezzanine floor overlooks these three zones, accessible via a glass elevator. A bright yellow interactive display about nature occupies this level.

Ref: https://www.dezeen.com/2021/04/30/kanva-montreal-biodome-redesign/