Adaptive re-use study in Bois-de-la-RocheEn Français >
The agricultural estate Bois-de-la-Roche is a site of exceptional heritage value, with parts of its landscape and architectural elements recognized by municipal, provincial, and federal authorities.
When senator and businessman Louis-Jospeh Forget established his estate between 1886 and 1908, the site already had several structures built on it. He added new buildings, some conceptualized by renown architects Edward and William Sutherland Maxell, and acquired the adjacent lots to form a vast agricultural estate. Upon his passing, Louis-Joseph Forget’s descendants continued to occupy the land and, in 1960, the family trust acquired the adjacent schoolhouse and its surroundings. The property was managed by various parties during the second half of the 20th century, before being subdivided and partially acquired by the Montreal Urban Community (MUC) in 1991 to create an agricultural park. Over time, several projects were presented, none of which came to fruition. The residences on the MUC site are currently rented, notably to certain descendants of Senator Forget.
ERA’s scope of work focused on some residential buildings on the site currently owned by the City of Montreal: the former farmer’s house, the former schoolhouse, the “Eustache-Rouleau” house and the “employees” house. The team studied the available documentation on the characteristics, history and evolution of the Bois-de-la-Roche agricultural park, recent planning exercises, and conducted a site assessment, focalizing on said buildings and their respective lots. In conjunction with l’Enclume, an analysis of the current regulation, notably related to agricultural zoning, was then carried out to understand the feasibility of the proposed new uses. These inputs served as the basis for a diagnostic of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for each of the four buildings and for the site as a whole.
In parallel, the ideation exercise was enriched by a study of comparable precedents for agritourism projects, as well as for the adaptation and enhancement of heritage properties. A number of local stakeholders and potential partners were also consulted to identify trends and needs in contemporary agritourism operations.
With this in mind, ERA and l’Enclume formulated an overall picture of the site’s potential, presenting programmatic scenarios and illustrating development schematic proposals for the four buildings and their surroundings. The proposed ensemble acts as a cohesive whole, with complementary uses aligned with the vision for the Grand Parc de l’Ouest.