Empress Theatre 

Digital Arts Gallery

A new extension for Montreal's historic theatre.  

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The Egyptian Revival style theatre was built in 1927.

 

To avoid demolition, a Digital Arts Gallery extends the life of the heritage building. 

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Visitors enter the Digital Arts Gallery from

below the existing theatre structure.

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The gallery offers a multi-sensory experience

with all six sides of the interior lined in LED screens.

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An enclosed white exhibition space

frames views of the adjacent park.

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The municipal district of Montreal wishes to propose a new extension to the historic Empress Theatre in hopes to conserve the building currently in decay and risking demolition while revitalising the surrounding neighbourhood.

The proposed Digital Arts Gallery will become Canada's first immersive digital art centre. The architectural journey is designed to take visitors from the Empress Theatre [the past], to the outdoors [the present], finally reaching the digital exhibition space [the future].

The extension is shaped by seven white concrete volumes, each hosting a unique function. Entering from an underground circulation, a vertical shaft takes guests to a bridge which connects the theatre to the outdoors. A double-sided box seating opens to both the theatre and gallery, while an enclosed long volume for exhibition and a viewing deck provide access to the theatre's outdoor rooftop. 

Six inward facing LED screens installed onto the new envelope provide a digital platform for artists to showcase their work to be experienced by visitors throughout the building. Architecturally, the realm of digital interaction is confined to the interstitial spaces between the building's skin and the white volumes. 

At night, the lights fill the interior of the gallery diffusing blended colours on the facade which visually animate the surrounding streets and activates the neighbourhood.