The story of D’Arts et de rêves… Chapter 6

In the fifth chapter (December 2017), we tackled the present while looking towards the future: we revealed the outlines of the five-year landscaping plan, the achievements of 2017, the tasks planned in 2018, and a surprise--the observation project that will take the shape of a cocoon and be implemented this spring or summer (cocoon made possible thanks to the Papillons à la carte ! crowdsourcing campaign). In this sixth chapter, we continue looking at the future with a brief overview of the transformation that the barn will be undergoing. This is a huge project that will allow D’Arts et de rêves to really stand out while attracting many artists in residence. Read on and you will see why this transformation has really piqued the curiosity and the ongoing interest of all those engaged in this project...

Turning the barn into a multifunctional creative space!

Let us first remember the following equation: D’Arts et de rêves = three co-founders = three artistic disciplines— visual arts, literary arts, and contemporary circus arts. The residence can now easily accommodate people working in these three areas, although it is easier for a writer or a visual artist (producing works of small or medium format) to work there. For sculptors, artists wishing to create large paintings, and artists of contemporary circus, it is a little more complex, hence the idea of creating a multifunctional space in the barn.

The barn as it is today…

Currently, the barn has a ground floor and a top floor, both well-ventilated; one can admire the century-old beams, as neither the ceiling nor the walls are insulated or finished.

  • Half the ground floor is occupied by the residence; the second half is used for storage (tools, tractor/lawn mower, summer furniture...), a washroom, a stall for a horse (there were nine stalls in the old barn), and a workshop.
  • On the top floor, where hay used to be stored, there are two sections separated by a staircase built in the middle of the barn. The section above the residence is a large, partly unobstructed space with an 18 ½ ft. high ceiling. The other section is used for storage (furniture, building materials...).

Up until now…

A writer has been seen setting up his workspace, in the section near the top floor window overlooking the brook and the field, and writing quietly; an artist in visual arts chose this same place to enjoy the available space and daylight, and focus on her painting; and a few contemporary circus artists enjoyed working there to design acrobatics, balance and/or aerobatics performances.

The wished-upon use for this multifunctional creative space…

Before even starting to think about transforming this space, we must specify the needs and determine precisely what it is we can offer, and to whom. Of course, the limited space would not really allow artists from different disciplines to work simultaneously, but we do know that during the warmer seasons...

  • There are 21 different disciplines in contemporary circus arts,. By redesigning the working space, the barn would be large enough to accommodate the practice of 19 of these disciplines. We would of course plan for a safe environment, stretch bars, mirrors, hooks, attachment points, ground anchors, wall and ceiling anchors to secure the rigging...
    Our residence will be unique because contemporary circus artists do not presently have access, in the province of Quebec, to a residence as well as a place of creation under a single roof (though this can be found in Europe), it should be quite a coveted creative environment!
  • Writers are pretty lucky: they can work in the residence, in the barn, or even outside, because little set-up or space required.
  • Painters wishing to produce large format works would really benefit from an open space on the ground floor.
  • Sculptors could also use this space.

As the artists’ needs are varied and numerous, a temporary committee (composed of artists plus an architect) for the development of the multifunctional space has been formed to clarify these needs.

Transforming the barn…

The members of the executive committee retained the services of CTD Inc., the consulting engineering firm founded by Pascal Lamy that specializes in construction engineering. The plans produced by Mr. Lamy's team enabled the executive committee to clearly visualize this refurbishment project.

In order to comply with the building code standards and to foresee all the phases of this transformation, another step was deemed essential, namely the production of an architect's plan. Why? Because after much discussion, it became evident that it would also be important to review the barn’s heating system, the ventilation, the electrical lighting, the possibility of adding windows, etc.

So far, the project is looking good, as evidenced by the plans submitted by Mr. Lamy. Three types of engineering work will be needed:

  1. Demolition work
    a) Demolition of the extra thick wood floor on the top floor
    b) Removing the columns from the ground floor
    c) Removing the plumbing equipment (existing washroom) and dismantling the existing staircase
    d) Demolition of the concrete slab
  2. Plumbing and concrete work
    a) Relocating the water pipes of the washroom
    b) Concreting work of the slab
    c) Excavation and concreting work of the outer concrete pilasters which will serve as the basis for the new glulam timber arches
  3. Wood frame work
    a) Building the new walls and stairs
    b) Installing the new laminated timber arches
    c) Dismantling the existing wooden arches and other frames

By installing the wooden arches supporting the barn on the outside, the interior will offer much more open space, which will undoubtedly appeal to artists in residence...

Plans evolve constantly…

It was after a site visit with Élizabeth Bouchard, architect, that we thought about insulating the barn, which would probably be done from the outside in order to keep the beautiful original worked beams visible and to maintain the height of the ceiling.

There would be quite a benefit in insulating this multifunctional space, as it could then accommodate artists at least two more months a year, a month earlier in the spring and a month later in the fall. Ms. Bouchard also suggested upgrading the windows, which would improve insulation.

And why not make the space usable for more people, maybe even add a washroom to make this multifunctional space a public space at certain times during the year...

As you have probably figured out by now, this project is in constant evolution. It is a truly story worth following and we will be happy to share our news with you via our newsletters and our website.

Milestones and a first timetable

2018 :

  1. Winter: Form a temporary committee for the development of the multifunctional space.
  2. Winter: Specify artists’ requirements.
  3. Spring: Produce the architect's plan taking into consideration the artists’ requirements.
  4. Spring: Finalize the plans for the refurbishment project of the D’Arts et de rêves barn at 57, rue Principale Nord, Sutton.
  5. Fall: Estimate costs

2019 :

  1. Search for financing and complete financial arrangement.

2019-2020 :

  1. Call for tenders and obtain the necessary funds.
  2. Begin work.

The challenges of this refurbishment project…

There will obviously be some drawbacks and challenges, including:

  • Obtaining the required funding.
  • Keeping the unique cachet of the ceiling beams of the barn.
  • Not being able to welcome artists in residence during much of the structural renovation work.
  • Installing a new concrete slab, which means among other things pulling out the existing one that is actually uneven, no way we could just have added concrete to even it out.
  • Disassembling the old beams while installing the new ones.
  • Doing all the work without damaging the residence.

In a nutshell…

This is the biggest D’Arts et de rêves project to date and we are very proud, albeit somewhat anxious... it must be recognized however that the barn’s transformation will be quite remarkable.
When the work starts, you will be able to see the evolution of the project as we will publish photos on our website to document the different phases of the project.

In Chapter 7 of The Story of D’Arts et de rêves, you will have the opportunity to learn more about another project that is dear to our heart, that is the landscaping of the cultural park.
To be continued…
Liliane Lessard