The Oasis Builder’s Art
When admiring the elegant layout of the Bota Bota Gardens, it’s easy to see why it’s such an unparalleled oasis of R&R and a comforting refuge from the urban jungle. What’s less obvious about this peaceful retreat is the incredible challenge that its construction represented. Just ask Charles Côté and Jean-Sébastien Herr, the two architects from the firm MU that Bota Bota called upon to design the project.
Even before plans were drawn up, it was clear this was an ambitious project. “It was unusual in that we had to deal with a wet environment,” says Charles. Indeed, the job entailed building a haven of relaxation that included a pool, several basins, a sauna, and indoor and outdoor rest areas, and to make all of them accessible throughout the year.
From the outset, Bota Bota and MU shared a common obsession: to ensure the new Gardens would seamlessly blend in with their natural surroundings and even showcase them. The architects were used to the idea. Projects seen all over the world are of course a source of inspiration for them, but at the same time they’re always keen to adapt their work to the unique conditions of any given site.
In this case, they decided to bear in mind the site’s trees while planting grass on containers painted black to match the boat’s steel. This creates the illusion of wide suspended expanses of lawn. The containers also act as a barrier to isolate the gardens from the street and from the city’s hustle and bustle. The pool, its waterfall, and the various basins are thus surrounded by grassy containers and trees, not to mention the flowers and wide assortment of vegetation that will be planted every spring.
The big problem, however, was ensuring that this space would be useable in winter. “This reality was a determining factor in the choice of materials,” reveals Jean-Sébastien. The architects thus favoured the use of noble materials like stone and wood. Furthermore, a radiating floor was installed that uses state-of-the-art geothermal technology to collect heat from the St-Lawrence river, the ice and the boat’s wastewater. “It’s a very green project,” says Charles, who acknowledges the valuable contribution made by David Trinque, Bota Bota’s Director of Maintenance, on the development of this complex heating system.
And, what, you may ask, were the architect’s favourite features on the project? “First and foremost, the pool, which is sure to be the hit of the summer. And then there are the perforated roof edges, which create a wonderful interplay of light and shadow.”
We hope you’ll come by for a visit – spring, summer, fall or winter – to pick out your favourite feature!