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Escales découvertes: planning and interpretation on the heritage site of Mount Royal 

Peter Soland
Architect and Urban Designer

Escales découvertes (or “Discovery Stops”) is an unusual project that offers to a novel and subtle way to discover the heritage site of Mount Royal. Here, visitors are invited to follow their instincts, and sensory experience takes precedence over the didactic presentation of historical facts. The project fosters the accessibility and discovery of Mount Royal’s lesser-known features. The goal is that the visitor leaves with a renewed experience and a better understanding of the site’s significance in the urban landscape of Montreal.

The project embraces three different scales of Mount Royal’s landscape: the territory as a whole, with its three summits and built landmark; interior views; and more hidden and unusual environments.

The principal feature of the project consists of a family of interventions – 3D maps, signs, stopping places and way markers – that communicate knowledge about the mountain and guide visitors toward places to discover. The interventions are coherent with “Olmstedian” design criteria. Their vocabulary is anchored in a register of forms that are specific to the mountain and that relate to its deeper roots. The materials used (granite and bronze) are simple and durable, and blend in both with the natural landscapes of Mount Royal Park and the cultural landscape of Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery.