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Institut quantique de l'Université de Sherbrooke

Saucier + Perrotte Architectes

Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada

May 2022


Gilles Saucier (Design architect), André Perrotte (Project architect)



Institute Quantique de l’Université de Sherbrooke (Client representative : Veronique Ellyson)


Olivier Blouin


The first floor is encircled by a circular concrete enclosure that houses and protects the vibration- and magnetic-sensitive quantum research laboratories. This concrete "core" anchors the building and serves as a base for the massive wooden structure of the upper floors. The robust, mineral basilar contrasts with the crystalline envelope of the upper floors. The building's appearance is thus strongly characterized by this rich material opposition: raw and glittering.

The two upper floors feature wood/concrete composite floors with a CLT (cross-laminated timber) load-bearing wall structure. The gleaming metal envelope incorporates huge curtain-wall windows that offer spectacular views of the campus environment. These large openings open onto both researchers' offices and shared workspaces.

The innovative structure of the project has been awarded a $1 million grant under the technology showcase program for innovative wood buildings and solutions. In collaboration with Université Laval, Latéral's structural engineers developed a system of rods glued into CLT. This is a world first for this type of assembly.

The project's pavilion layout (formal detachment) enabled it to benefit from 4 façades, thus multiplying the opportunities to obtain maximum natural light in the building. The envelope was carefully calibrated to achieve the optimum ratio between light and thermal insulation requirements. The positioning, size and orientation of openings were carefully studied.


In 2016, at Université de Sherbrooke was created the Institut Quantique. With this new institute, the University aims to support and propel innovation in quantum science by bringing their teams together in a common location and thus fostering their interactions.

The new Institut Quantique Pavilion represents high-level science and its connection with people and nature. Expressing itself through formal simplicity, the building is designed using innovative structural principles. Inspired by the cryostat (a physics instrument used to obtain cryogenic temperatures by using the thermal inertia of a very cold liquid), the pavilion seems to float on its structure, representing all the possibilities of science and its intriguing, even mysterious character for those who observe it from the outside. The building's apparent sobriety conceals a warm, comfortable interior universe, characterized by the strong presence of wood.

The 3-storey building stands out from the surrounding existing buildings in terms of form and material. A walkway connects the building with the Faculty of Science, making the new building fully integrated with the existing infrastructure.


The project is built around a large central space. A multiplicity of informal spaces revolves around this atrium, encouraging spontaneous creative encounters and exchanges. A wide range of space types supports a variety of uses, from the agora for large-scale events, to meetings of small groups in the sub-spaces. Large openings in the façade bring natural light into these public spaces. The work areas, positioned around this space, are equipped with blackboards, projection screens or simple whiteboards, becoming anchor points for discussion.

This saying from the researchers expresses their interest behind these informal places:
"Research happens in the lab. Science happens in the corridors".

This dynamic heart at the center of the building also contains the vertical circulations, adding to the rich movement of users.

The innovative wood structural system of the new Institut Quantique is organically integrated into the program. Rather than being mere skeletal elements, the structural wood components have become true generators of space. In effect, the wooden structure "inhabits" the space, allowing circulation within the interior microcosms to create bridges between different disciplines.

The project embodies all the aspects of technical programming (laboratories, workshops) and quality (meeting and collaboration spaces) dreamed of by the Institute's staff. In just a few months, this research center has become a "flagship pavilion" on the Université de Sherbrooke campus. Students and users from other faculties also enjoy attending seminars and lectures given in the wooden agora. This space helps to demystify science for everyone.

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