Tanguay Store in Trois-Rivieres
Alain Tousignant / Coarchitecture
Nordic structures bois inc. (Operations and engineering)
The building encapsulates the architect’s vision of combining the latest innovations in building design and sustainable development together with a reference to the local history. Tanguay sells home furnishings, electronic goods and home appliances. A large part of the ground floor is dedicated to retail space, with the rest of the building housing offices, an employees’ lounge and a warehouse area with a mezzanine. The store is built around one central aisle, which is highlighted overhead by a north-facing skylight which runs from one end of the building to the other, allowing soft, natural light to be diffused inside. The various sales sections are arranged on either side of the aisle and the main entrance on the west side is crowned by a glass atrium that glows like a lantern at sunset. Particular attention was paid to meet the client’s needs while keeping the building’s surface area under a certain limit, after which non-combustible construction methods would have been required, together with the additional restrictions that that implied.
Furniture retailer Tanguay’s newest and largest store is located in the city of Trois-Rivières, halfway between Montreal and Quebec City. Constructed in 2016, the 7,000 square-metre foot building features a combination of natural light, clean lines, and a focus on user comfort. Its interior space permeates warmth, modernity, and simplicity to provide a new kind of customer experience. The fully exposed glulam (glue-laminated timber) structural frame gives it a distinctive personality that highlights the expertise of Quebec artisans. Yet, despite its versatility and beauty, choosing wood as the main building material provided quite a challenge. The decision to use wood for this project was to acknowledge the fact that the forestry industry was the primary reason for the development of this region. The wood used was an FSC architectural-grade 24F-ES/NPG glue-laminated timber, under the brand name of Nordic Lam, made from black spruce. It was produced and milled by Les Chantiers de Chibougamau, some 500 kilometres from Trois-Rivières.
The Tanguay store can easily be spotted from the main highway between Montreal and Quebec City. The building is eye-catching, with its exposed wooden structure and ceilings visible through the tall windows, especially when it is lit up inside at night. The structural grid was optimized at 12.5 m. by 15 m. for the furniture section, taking full advantage of glulam’s strength. This meant that twelve pillars which would normally have been required could be eliminated, opening up and greatly enhancing the versatility of the living room, dining room, and bedroom showroom areas. The structure’s refinement is reflected even in how columns and braces were managed. One solution developed with the engineers made it possible to eliminate uprights entirely along the two most visible sides. Slanted pillars dealt with wind bracing while unifying the structure and adding lightness. Interior pillars were also grooved on either side to reduce apparent bulk and create the impression of two slimmer pillars side by side. The designers hid ceiling mechanisms from view to put the emphasis on the FSC wooden structure, researched materials and designed unusually shaped adjustable light fixtures that were both esthetically beautiful and highly functional. A wonderful interior environment and its impact on the customer experience have undoubtedly been the positive effects of prioritizing the use of wood and natural light for this project.