Midcentury Church in Quebec is Converted to a Library

Written by Lloyd Alter

When Jean Marie-Roy built the St Denys du Plateau church in Quebec City in 1964, it was a modern wonder. At the time, almost 90% of Quebecois attended church regularly. Now it is barely 8% and churches are being desanctified and converted all over the Province; Arcade Fire turned one into a recording studio. Now Dan Hanganu has turned this one into a library. It is a wonderful demonstration of the adaptive reuse of a mid-century building for more modern uses.

© Stéphane Groleau

Unlike church use, library use is actually increasing across North America as they adapt to computers and other uses. So now it is the The Monique-Corriveau Library, named after a famous Quebec childrens’ author. Dan Hanganu writes:

Converting and expanding such an eloquent example of modern Quebec architectural heritage is a very delicate operation which must be approached with respect and humility.[...] Saint-Denys-du-Plateau Church deserves this special consideration due to its unusual, dynamic volume, which evokes a huge tent inflated by the wind and anchored to the ground with tensioners.

© Stéphane Groleau

Dan Hanganu has a wonderful feel for basic materials; His Montreal museum of archaeology and history at Pointe-à-Callière is one of my favorite buildings in that city, all exposed steel studs and metal. He continues that here;

Building on transparency and reflection, the architects have made a strong statement with colour at the ends of the building, an allusion to the vibrant, bold colours of the 1960s, which contrast the whiteness and brilliance newly captured in the remarkable form of the original church.

More on Designboom, and V2com.

© Merkx + Girod

Churches and books certainly go well together; here are a few others we have shown on TreeHugger:

Related on TreeHugger.com:

This post originally appeared on TreeHugger.

Photo Credit: via Flickr user Jacques Trempe


Sonia Minwer Barakat Requ

I love libraries.Great idea,thanks for sharing

Thomas Clother
Thomas Clother2 years ago

Jean-Pierre G wrote @Danielle E. I understand your comment, it may apply to Abrahamic religions, but I disagree that it can be applied to Taoism, Buddhism, shintoism or Jainism.

Well I have to heartily agree with Danielle E, and posit that any and all religions can be twisted and repurposed by those of ill will to suit their ends. When we place our faith in the supernatural and stories made up to explain our existence we leave ourselves vulnerable to manipulation and domination. Especially when we internalize the negative messages before accepting the external controls.

Better a library than a sky pixy theme park, anyday of the week..............although I must confess to a weakness for devotional architecture of all denominations.

Anna Wang
Anna Meng Wang2 years ago


Georgina Elizab McAlliste
.2 years ago


Jean-Pierre Guay
Jean-Pierre Guay2 years ago

and I forgot: it's not applicable either to aboriginal spiritualities.

Jean-Pierre Guay
Jean-Pierre Guay2 years ago

@Danielle E. I understand your comment, it may apply to Abrahamic religions, but I disagree that it can be applied to Taoism, Buddhism, shintoism or Jainism.

Maria Teresa Schollhorn

Thank you.

Danielle Esau
Danielle Elle2 years ago

Library over a church any day. At least people learn science and facts (apart from other things) in libraries and not crazy stories made by misogynistic men thousands of years ago about rape slaves and marrying off daughters. Libraries offer REAL world advice not forced obedience.

Jean-Pierre Guay
Jean-Pierre Guay2 years ago

How surprised was I to see an article about my local library in the Care2 bulletin! wow! It's just a small borough library (Sainte-Foy) of a, at best, medium town (Quebec City) in french Canada (not to say that it's not a nice place to live).

But I feel compel to tell a couple of facts about that story:

1- The church had been vacant for a couple of years, the local muslim community wanted to buy it an convert it into a mosque, but there was a big uproar (many opponents hadn't set in a church for decades, but it was a "symbol")

2- The library design is not all that wonderful, some halls gave no natural light and only fluorescent lighting, not that great.

And for those asking, yes church attendance drop drasticly in the 60' in what was called here 'The Quiet Revolution" and in the years that followed.

Vivianne Mosca-Clark

Glad they didn't destroy the building. I do love the libraries.