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Photo credit: Adrien Williams


Escales découvertes was conceived as part of the celebrations of the 375th anniversary of the founding of Montreal. Located on the Mont-Royal Heritage Site, which includes, among other things, 3 summits, 4 cemeteries and 2 university campuses, the goal of the project was to draw visitors’ attention to the intimate aspects of the mountain, its unique landscape and his history. Distinct from traditional interpretive path options, the approach relies on intuition and introspection. It is a project that intersects landscape, wayfinding and interpretation allowing visitors to orient themselves, but above all to better perceive the geography of the places. [1]

Searching for a contemporary, critical approach to the project, the designers stayed away from traditional wayfinding options, such as linear trails, directional signage or commemorative markings opting instead for an open-ended strategy using natural features as wayfinding clues. They also cast aside grand civic interventions to favour intimate narratives suggested by multiple small-scale intrusions. A family of objects was designed in keeping with the requirements deriving from the site’s special heritage status. Made of granite and bronze to better withstand Montreal’s harsh winters, these objects were installed throughout the park and its immediate surroundings. They were meant to engage visitors in a sensorial and intuitive discovery of the site’s features. “We started talking about objects, rather than signage. Objects appearing in the landscape would be enigmatic and attract people to them.” (civiliti, 2017)

Three types of objects were created: tridimensional maps designed as orientation devices, low conical stones serving as place-markers in the landscape, and larger belvedere-like halts. The bronze maps, each set on a granite base, were strategically placed at twelve access points. Each map clearly identifies Mount Royal’s three distinct summits, rising above the city grid, and three built landmarks. Together they provide visitors with a visual and tactile understanding of the mountain’s geographical identity.

The conical place-markers, clustered in groups of two or three, vary in size, some as small as stepping-stones, others large enough to sit or lean on. With their bronze inscriptions, they provide clues to the more intimate characteristics of the mountain’s historical and natural features such as notable rock formations, prairies, the trace of a now-buried river or a vanished ski slope. Twenty-five of these granite cones clusters were installed on the mountain.

The third type of interventions designed for Mount Royal is a series of ten landscaped belvedere-like halts. Each one is either anchored in the ground or projecting from a cliff. It is also defined by a granite border featuring a verse written specifically for the location by an assigned Montreal poet. The halts, at times curvilinear, at times angular, all with built-in seating, were located on strategic locations with privileged views of the park’s interior landscapes.

The Discovery Halts project is about place making, discovering and interacting. It invites visitors to look within rather than without, to change their perception of celebrated landscapes, to find meaning in topography, in geological features and in a territory’s intimate stories. It encourages learning through feeling, seeing, and listening. One could describe the experience sought by the designers as a constant tug between landscape mindfulness and landscape dérive. Meandering about on Mount Royal becomes a phenomenological experience. [2]

Prix national, catégorie Paysages publics à grande échelle conçus par un architecte paysagiste, 2019 
Prix d’excellence, Association des architectes paysagistes du Canada, 2019 
Prix nationaux de design urbain 2018, catégorie fragments urbains, IRAC, ICU et AAPC 
Prix d’excellence – Placemaking and identity, Society for Experiential Graphic Design, 2018 


[1]       “Escales Découvertes.” Civiliti, May 13, 2021. https://civiliti.com/projet/escales-decouvertes/.

[2]       “Landezine Newsletter.” Landezine. Accessed August 24, 2021. http://landezine.com/index.php/2019/08/escales-decouvertes-by-civiliti/.

Additional information:

“Civiliti and JULIE Margot’s ‘ESCALES DÉCOUVERTES’ Wins Design Award.” Canadian Interiors, March 12, 2019. https://www.canadianinteriors.com/2018/06/13/civiliti-and-julie-margots-escales-decouvertes-wins-design-award/.

“Discovery Halts (Escales Découvertes) .” Landezine International Landscape Award LILA RSS. Accessed August 24, 2021. https://landezine-award.com/discovery-halts-escales-decouvertes/.

“Escales Découvertes, Site Patrimonial Déclaré Du Mont-Royal.” Vlan. Accessed August 24, 2021. https://www.vlanpaysages.ca/projets/escales-decouvertes-site-patrimonial-declare-du-mont-royal/.

Heller, Kate. “Escales Découvertes (Discovery Halts).” SEGD, April 2, 2018. https://segd.org/escales-decouvertes-discovery-halts.

“Work.” julie margot design. Accessed August 24, 2021. http://www.juliemargot.com/projet.php?lng=1&p=8.

Project Title: Escales découvertes (Discovery Halts) 
Artists: Civiliti, Julie Margot
Year: 2017

Place: Montréal, Québec

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