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These Odd, Amazing Mont-Royal Street Installations Are An Urban Architect's Fever Dream

A water-free pool and a gently flowing stream help kids to "love their neighbourhood."

Staff Writer
Someone walks through the pool of cold air. Right: a child plays in the artificial stream.

Someone walks through the pool of cold air. Right: a child plays in the artificial stream.

There’s a new pool on avenue Mont-Royal but don’t put your goggles on just yet. This isn’t your typical water feature: the refreshing breeze comes from two sets of fans, sending currents of air across the street to relieve pedestrians from the heat.

This little oasis is the brainchild of urban architect and designer Jean Beaudoin, whose work extends all along the walkable street this summer. His series of interactive installations include a gently flowing stream right on the street where passersby are serenaded by a choir of frogs and crickets, courtesy of Beaudoin’s friend and installation partner, Erick Villeneuve.

Beaudoin marks silence as one of the many things cities gain from pedestrianizing their streets. It was important to him to offset the traffic noises with something more calming, which sets the mood for the entire street.

"Main streets in high and mid-density districts and villages are the most important collective space," Beaudoin explained in an email to MTL Blog. "They are a place of gathering [and] community living," he said. His main goal with these projects is to influence how Montrealers understand their communal spaces, and he hopes to encourage even more pedestrian-centric changes going forward.

In case you were curious, the designs were all created with sustainability and long-term use in mind. All of the components used to construct the installations are reusable for next year. The plants blooming along the street will eventually move to a permanent location in six new "ruelles vertes" – ecologically green alleys –in the fall.

The installations this summer are just the start of Beaudoin’s dream linear park. This year, the team focused on using as much space as possible – they introduced more than 1,000 additional places to sit along avenue Mont-Royal this summer. If given free rein, Beaudoin would dream even bigger: creating long stretches of green and "extra long ponds."

Beaudoin imagines pedestrians enjoying "the precious collective space that is avenue Mont-Royal with no more asphalt, 80% coverage by trees, cooling with creeks, ponds, and waterfalls, more seating spaces than any park in America." He would also prioritize a "thriving market, stores, restaurants, and cafes," which he sees as "essential for quality of life" in densely populated neighbourhoods.

Next year, Beaudoin hopes to accomplish more of these big goals, so look forward to some "new stunts" when the weather gets warm again. For now, Montrealers can inhabit a slice of this dream along avenue Mont-Royal for the rest of the summer.

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