Alexandre Berthiaume has been living near the St-Denis street in Montreal for more than 15 years. Over time, he has noticed some rather constant changes. Once a busy commercial street, St-Denis now is struggling.  According to him, this decline in popularity is due to the difficulty of access to the street and the lack of parkings. There is also the e-commerce that doesn’t help. Everyone’s businesses are on decline, and even the restoration hardly survives.

What if there were no more cars on St-Denis? This is the hypothesis that Berthiaume would like to present. He is aware of the importance of St-Denis Street as a North-South car route for the city, but what if there was another way to travel? In the long run, and looking at projects elsewhere in the world, it is obvious that the automobile is no longer the best means of urban transport. By looking at models that work well abroad, one realizes that public transport, although criticized by many, becomes pleasant and effective when they are important in numbers. The growing importance of cycling in Montreal is equally undeniable. This growth is due to the fact that energies are deployed to make cycling facilities efficient and safe. This is why, according to Alexandre, it might be appropriate to consider a tramway, a spacious bike path as well as a beautifull pedestrian routes for St-Denis.

Becoming congested by the affluence of the North shore, the metro for its part sees its role a little changed. Another means of transport could balance the service of this axis of the city. The tramway would thus become a more local and more direct means. And from a tourist point of view, it would add to the liveliness of the neighborhood.

Also, there is a glaring lack of sunny and welcoming terraces in Montreal. The streets with the largest number of terraces have no long periods of sunshine. As a result, the north-south axis of St-Denis Street is much more propitious to long exposure of sunshine, especially on the east side of the street. It would therefore be logical according to Berthiaume to create on this side, large spaces available for installing comfortable and effective terraces as well as a cycle path. Then the tramway could use the side in the shade served by a sidewalk that would be very positive for the merchants on the west side.

Illustrated Section

Corner Duluth and St-Denis

The Proposition.

In his proposal, Alexandre recommends a slight change on the west side of St-Denis by extending the sidewalks by 50 cm and by adding benches useful to pedestrians and tramway users. Also, it offers two tramway spans distanced from a verdant plateau with some waiting and landing areas. In the center, there is a 5 m (16.5 ft.) wide green strip that can accommodate mature trees. On the other side, a bike path of 3 m wide, then, a gigantic sidewalk and terrace area. Its dimension could vary between 10 and 12 m, of the never seen on the island of Montreal. The terrace shown here has 54 seats.

A Greener Neighborhood

The revitalization of a sector in difficulty is undoubtedly the first benefit that this project would bring. The second would be to provide the surrounding population with a safe and enjoyable transportation system. The artery between Laurier (in the north) and Sherbrooke Street (in the south) could truly become the pole of restoration and entertainment, bringing affluence to merchants on the west side. This part of the neighborhood would offer a logical extension of the Latin Quarter to the South. Alexandre also proposes the occupation of space between Roy and Cherrier (at the level of the Raymond-Dewar Institute) by summer ephemeral stores in the form of containers. Finally, the coming of greener spaces would be of great help to the problem of urbain heat. A whole end of the Mt-Royal Plateau, falling into oblivion, could be reborn and lead by example a more intelligent and ecological way of life.

But Why ?

First out of love for Montreal. Because we have to talk about our future and the possibilities, even on the urban scale. Also because there are solutions and we must not wait for things to move. Then finally, because Alexandre Berthiaume possesses the means to conceptualize and illustrate in 3D this proposal. To see more of his projects, the navigation of his site is at the top right.

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3D design and illustration: Alexandre Berthiaume
Texts: Catherine d’Amours