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Photo: Stephane Bourgeois


Cohabitat Québec is a unique project located in the Saint-Sacrement district of downtown Québec City. The 42–unit project was built according to “cohousing,” principals. In a cohousing project, residents share common spaces, which, in turn helps to reduce the costs associated with owning and operating a home. A community house is available to all residents, and is equipped with amenities such as a large kitchen and dining room, a playroom, guest rooms, laundry room, lawn and gardening equipment and a workshop for do-it-yourselfers. 

Since the official opening in June 2013, Cohabitat has obtained both Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)® Platinum and Novoclimat certifications. Close to 75 per cent of the site was preserved as green space, and the large mature trees were incorporated into the development plan. [1]

The concept of cohabitation is part of a desire to create communities on a human scale where generations come together in spaces that promote good neighborliness and mutual aid. Cohabitat Quebec is the first project of this type to see the light of day in Quebec. Its development spanned several years of mobilization, planning and design for its future residents. Each of the 42 households owns their housing unit and shares common areas with the others. [2] 

The fact is, many people in modern society live in lonely isolation. How many of us today, with our economic nomadism, our commodified lifestyles, and our alienation from power, could be said to be lacking connections to others? In a society structured around private property, cohousing is a radical response: a return to village-like communities with shared resources. It’s a model with exciting possibilities—both for architects and for society at large—that deserves serious consideration. [3]

Cohabitat Québec is also the bearer of the eco-responsible values of its residents. The project supports these values through the architectural composition, the choice of materials and the ecological strategies adopted. The use of wood was essential, as much for its origin as for its responsible, healthy and natural characteristics and its contribution to exterior and interior aesthetics. A particular openwork wood apparatus reinforces the architectural concept of the project. The components of the envelope were selected taking into account their recycled content, their energy efficiency, their contribution to air quality, their local origin and their more natural composition. The assembly details between the materials aim to achieve a higher level of energy efficiency with regard to the control of thermal gains and losses.  

On another scale, good management of surface water is achieved by reducing impermeable surfaces and the presence of a retention basin. Finally, vegetation and pale surfaces help reduce the heat island effect. All of the strategies adopted have ensured LEED certification for Platinum-level homes for each of the buildings forming Cohabitat Québec. Vegetation and pale surfaces help reduce the heat island effect.  [2]

In order to limit the ecological footprint of the project, it occupies only 25% of the total area. The density is 57.5 dwellings per hectare. Site development included the recycling of an existing building, a former institutional office building. Outside, a large common ground serves as a play area and an ice rink in winter. A terrace and a vegetable garden have also been fitted out. The landscaping is made up of 93% hardy, drought tolerant plants. Ducts have been put in place to facilitate the possible installation of charging  

Water flowing from the roofs is channeled into a buried basin for watering and exterior cleaning. The housing units are fitted with water-saving appliances and taps (average tap flow rate less than 7.5 l / min; toilets: 4.1 l / flush).  

The airtightness value is between 1.1 and 1.3 air changes per hour for all buildings in the complex. The Energuide rating index varies between 80 and 84.  

Pale colored, high albedo materials were used for the sidewalks, patios and driveways, reducing the heat island effect. The structural panels were all prefabricated in the factory and the wood used is local and FSC certified. The attic was insulated using cellulose, a material made from 100% recycled materials. The paint and the insulating wool are free of VOCs. Very few finishing materials were used. For example, 90% of floors are varnished concrete. The cabinets are made of 100% recycled composite wood with urea formaldehyde free resins.  

Cohabitat Quebec is the first cohabitation project on Quebec soil. A cohabitation is distinguished by the participation of future resident owners in real estate decision-making, design, the importance of shared services and management by the occupants. [4]


CaGBC Durabilys LEED Homes category 2016
Architectural Merits of the City of Québec 2013


[1]      “Cohousing in Québec City.” Cohabitat Québec: Cohousing in Québec City. Accessed June 16, 2021. https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/professionals/industry-innovation-and-leadership/industry-expertise/affordable-housing/case-studies-and-testimonials/cohabitat-quebec-city.

[2]       “Cohabitat Québec.” TERGOS ARCHITECTURE + CONSTRUCTION. Accessed June 16, 2021. http://tergos.qc.ca/realisations/12r04_cohabitat-quebec/.

[3]        Allderdice, Jacob. “The Cohousing Option.” Canadian Architect, June 22, 2019. https://www.canadianarchitect.com/the-cohousing-option/.

[4]       “Cohabitat Québec.” Projets verts. Accessed June 16, 2021. https://projetsverts.voirvert.ca/projets/cohabitat-quebec.

Additional information:

CMHCca. “Quebec Receives Help for Affordable Housing from CMHC.” YouTube. YouTube, November 8, 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1EtGM8U8ak.

Cohabitat Québec. Cohabitat Québec. Accessed June 16, 2021. https://www.cohabitat.ca/.

“Livraison Du Projet Écologique Cohabitat Québec.” Voir vert – Le portail du bâtiment durable au Québec. Accessed June 16, 2021. https://www.voirvert.ca/nouvelles/actualites/livraison-du-projet-ecologique-cohabitat-quebec.

Thibaudeau, Carole. “Premier Cohabitat Au Québec.” La Presse, March 11, 2014. https://www.lapresse.ca/maison/immobilier/projets-immobiliers/201403/11/01-4746682-premier-cohabitat-au-quebec.php.

Project Title: Cohabitat Québec
Artists:  Tergos
Year: 2014

Place: Ville de Québec, QC

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