Service center

A visitor center in a national park pays homage to the region’s history

The Camp-de-Touage Visitors Center in the Pointe-Taillon National Park in Saint-Henri-de-Taillon, Canada, was designed to educate the public about the natural environment and the history of the territory in which it was placed. Blouin Tardif Architectes as well as Eric Painchaud and associates challenged them to create a building worthy of being in the national park to contribute to its historical and environmental preservation. Here’s how they did it.

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The designers worked with the Société des Etablissements de Plein Air du Québec, a government agency that manages parks, to create a building that connects history, nature and education by creating a structure that magnifies the territory. on which he sits. The designers wanted to ensure that this building would connect people with nature and also be sustainable and develop the territories and public goods where it is located.

Related: 600 acres of land will turn into a climate-friendly park

Aerial view of the center looking at its roof

The historic towing camp located on this site was founded as a towing station for the logging industry working upstream from the mouth of the Saguenay River. Due to the history of this region, the spire, a symbolic structure used for log driving and logging, inspired the shape of this project.

Wooden terrace and path to the center

“The concepts of protective screen, bridge, observation point, light filter and expression of [boom] structure are all areas of development that have resulted in a sober and coherent architectural ensemble that meets the technical and functional considerations of the reception pavilion for the benefit of the experiences of its users,” explain the architects.

A wooden walkway to the service center

The new center serves as a reception area for park users. Plus, the parking lot, bike path, and walking paths all pass through this central location at the mouth of the park. A pavilion form served both as a good structure for this purpose and also suited the topography of the site and the preservation of native plants nearby.

The illuminated wooden walkway at night

A covered exterior walkway wraps around the structure to guide visitors inside while providing passive ventilation. Visitors follow a winding route through various areas of the building, including the reception, a shop, an equipment rental area, a veranda and a service area for campers. The walkway eventually turns into a staircase that connects the center to the camping area below. Additionally, the designers say they created the center with this spiral pathway to mimic the way people experience a natural environment by exploring it.

A view inside the service center from the outside at night

A large roof overhang creates additional weather protection and delineates different uses of the space. On one side, the canopy creates a safe space to gather and relax in the shade. From the interior, openings framing the landscape create points of visual interest. So, even from inside this visitor center, people are already experiencing the outdoor scenery here.

Another angle of the walkway and entrance at night

The center was designed for three-season use, so the entire structure, which includes mosquito nets and eaves, incorporates the principles of passive ventilation and heating to save on energy consumption. A large part of the pavilion is made of wood, in harmony with the rustic and simple environment.

The Camp-de-Touage Visitors Center adopts a poetic architecture adapted to its environment while leaving the smallest possible imprint on the natural landscape. Overall, the designers claim that the center evokes territorial and historical references related to log driving and forestry.

+ Blouin Tardif Architects

Images by Stéphane Groleau