Tripod was an imaginary foray into the industrial history of both the site and the city, for Sid Lee Architecture and Régis Côté et Associés believed that approaching this new amphitheater without regard for its past would inhibit public response to it. Tripod’s design strategy was to delve into the site’s history and give material life to an exploration of the link between past and present through the symbolic moulding of the stacks of paper mill–bound logs that used to rise along the Saint-Maurice River like great pyramids fed by conveyors. Through this reading of residual images of the city Trois-Rivières (Canada), the architects sought to retell a story that went beyond the visible landscape and tied the project to vestiges of its past. The amphitheater was an entity meant to re-inhabit the site, with contours symbolizing the location and a profile embodying a resolutely contemporary formalism.
Studies by the acoustician’s team were used to determine orientation and layout. Minimizing acoustic constraints caused by the project’s positioning and the direction of the sound from the amphitheater was a prime concern. To enhance the sense of closure the architects added an access gallery along the southern (urban) flank that makes the amphitheater’s presence and the prefunction role of the new public square more obvious. Animating the venue also called for a special focus on pedestrian access, both through landscape design and entranceway functionality. Three public entry points punctuated the approach area to the amphitheater’s performance zone. Artist and spectator intimacy is enhanced by a rolling landscape, designed to follow the natural curve of the terrain.
The amphitheater’s hall way opening to the public square is covered with a green roof, and its façade was made permeable to emphasize the connection of the exterior. The architects also create a large fresco to bring art to the site. This imposing shape of the amphitheater was also intended to make the facility a focal point for the rehabilitation of the city’s riverbanks and offer a way to experience and view the immensity of the St. Lawrence and Saint-Maurice Rivers from different perspectives and scales.
The project’s structural premises were simple: use a wood canopy structure for historical reasons and for greater durability, and match it to the strength of steel on account of the architectural concept calling for long-span structures. The strategy was to have a self-supporting structure made up of four rigid porticos in triangulated steel buttressed by two load-bearing partitions, the stagehouse side walls. These two walls were then joined by a horizontal steel beam, thus forming the fifth portico and completing the compression ring. The final assembly was trussed with a two-way wooden structure (caisson). This structure was made out of prefabricated wood laminated beams about 3 m deep and assembled into 4 m x 4 m modules. The roof is covered with prefabricated wood decking tiles about 75 mm thick.
The outside wall at the back of the dressing rooms and office area is a double glazed skin covered with the a semi-transparent wall system of perforated panels. This allows light to filter in while protecting privacy. These perforated panels also make it possible to vary façade textures throughout while using only a single material. The visible portions of the stagehouse and proscenium cladding match the wooden structure of the canopy. These surface areas are covered with a system of panels made of marine plywood frequently used in naval construction.
Sid Lee Architecture and Régis Côté et associés
Location: Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Canada
Project Area: 13,671 sqm