Shipping containers are the base for an instant “lush urban oasis.”
There is not usually much going on in Montreal’s Phillips Square, named after a building contractor (his wife left it to the City for a memorial to her husband) and dominated by a statue of Edward VII. There used to be a plaque marking the site where the family of Confederate President Jefferson Davis lived during the Civil War but they removed that in 2017. The square is even less attractive than usual, thanks to construction on Sainte-Catherine Street.
So this summer, the local development association and Îlot 84 built a pop-up development out of shipping containers and plywood, Le Petit Montréal. It offers “tourists, citizens, and downtown workers a lush oasis where they can relax in the middle of the Sainte-Catherine Street construction site. Big communal tables, string lights, design furniture, shady relaxation spaces.”
With its elevated terrace, Le Petit Montréal allows access to a new point of view, not only overlooking downtown but most of all the construction site, making it possible to observe and better understand it. Its large staircase acts as both stands highlighting the statue, but also as a wall blocking the noise nuisance of the construction work on Sainte-Catherine Street.
The shipping containers supporting the structure are now interactive, informative spaces for tourists and neighbourhood workers.
Montreal is full of interesting activists, and the designers of Le Petit Montréal fit the description:
Îlot 84 is a non-profit corporation whose mission is to revitalize urban spaces through cultural, artistic and professional projects. Initiated by five experienced event entrepreneurs, the team at Aire commune promotes a vision of an effervescent city made dynamic by shared sites that are out of the ordinary.
We need more effervescent cities and fewer boring parks. They should make this kind of thing permanent.