Making People Places: Montreal

This post contains some of my observations of public spaces in Montréal on a trip there in June 2018. The feature image shows a shipping container converted into small free library near Atwater Market, a project of Dare-Dare. (I saw lots of repurposing of shipping containters – and I mean, why not use the available resources? This is a port city after all!)

Quick-construction wooden Parklets seem to be a dime a dozen in a Montréal summer. Some of these look like they are year-round spaces (like the pink Parklet in the upper left photo below) and many are summer-time only. Accompanying regulatory signage indicates that these two parking spaces are reserved for Parklets from April 1 to December 1. Temporary loss of parking is just the price of great outdoor patios that enliven a street for the summer months.


This tiered Parklet structure designed for the slope of the road up Mont Royal appears to be a summertime installation as well, although the sun cover could just as well be a cover from the rain in a wet Vancouver winter. It has a mix of moveable and fixed seating as well as swing seats hanging from the scaffolding (see lower centre photo below – neat!), in-built planter boxes, an adjacent shipping-container-cum-café (bottom left photo below), and steps and ramps for access. (I think the small grey attachments on the stairs and at the top of the ramp are solar lights?) A posted wooden events calendar for June shows a whole bunch of scheduled end-of-week and weekend activities and performances. When we were there, there was a musician playing cello (top photo below).

The whole thing has the air of being thrown together quite quickly – the goal is a functional, quickly installed space, rather than something that’s meant to endure through the seasons. I’m curious what happens to the lumber when winter comes.

I spotted specialty paving treatments like tiles and pavers (not just asphalt and concrete) in public plazas across Montréal.

Off of the fantastic fully separate bike lane that runs what seems like the entire length of Rue Rachel, north of Parc La Fontaine, I spotted these permanent ping pong tables. Would have loved to catch them during the day to see how popular they are.


A couple other pieces of street furniture I liked were these pre-fabricated wood-topped concrete benches with skate-stops (which function well as both blockade and sitting opportunity) and these add-on wheelchair ramps at the Saint-Laurent street festival for folks to get on to and off of the sidewalk.

The ramps are made by AXCS, who envision a Montreal without steps, and what to raise awareness among citizens, urban planners, and business owners to making space more physically accessible.

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