New terminal building at Chibougamo Chapés Airport with a state-of-the-art standard design that represents the aspirations and culture of each community in the vast region
The Chibougamau-Chapais airport is the gateway to the Eeyou Istchee James Bay region. It services a large territory that includes the communities of Chibougamau, Chapais, and Oujé-Bougoumou. Faced with growing passenger traffic, a new terminal building was deemed necessary to meet the increasing demand.
The new terminal was designed according to the latest standards in order to provide seamless passenger experiences and to express the aspirations and culture of the communities it services.In addition to servicing air travelers, the airport is used for freight, medical evacuations, and forest firefighting operations. All of these services needed to be maintained on a continuous basis, posing a significant challenge during construction. Rigorous planning and construction phasing, as well as careful site selection for the new terminal, allowed operations to continue within the existing terminal throughout construction, and for the airport tarmac to be enlarged once the new terminal was in operation.
The new building is composed of two low structures on either side of a glazed concourse. The latter serves as a central hub for passengers and connects all terminal functions and services, ensuring that they are easily identifiable and accessible. Its design establishes visual connectivity from the parking lot to the runway. Waiting travelers can watch their plane on the tarmac while others can monitor the pick-up and drop-off zone. This fluidity is further reinforced by the consistent use of materials and lighting treatment when moving from interior to exterior spaces. The exterior façade features the name of the airport in Cree and in French and is adorned with artwork by Emmanuelle Gendron, cleverly integrated into the transparency of the timber curtain walls and paying homage to the Eeyou Istchee region. Gendron’s work was selected by a committee which included representatives from the communities of Chibougamau, Chapais, and Oujé-Bougoumou.
Highlighting its proximity to the boreal forest, the terminal’s design showcases locally produced wood, particularly high-performance products such as glulam and cross-laminated timber (CLT) structural slabs. The waiting area is delimited on three sides by timber curtain walls, topped by a raised roof forming a south-facing clerestory. The roof structure combines engineered wood and steel components. Stressed CLT panels spanning 12m are supported by wood columns at each end, reinforced with high-strength steel rods tying the centre to the extremities.
The mixed structural system allows for large spans, creating an open public space. The system also allows for reduced roof thickness, while contributing to the interior shading strategy through its generous overhangs. The curtain walls provide natural light and improved energy efficiency, contributing to structural bracing, while the clerestory acts as a load-bearing axis, eliminating the need for a structural beam. This minimalist, highly efficient approach underlines the project’s core design principles: transparency, lightness, comfort, and functionality.
EVOQ is an award-winning architecture firm recognized for quality interventions and site sensitive design solutions. The firm, formerly known as FGMDA, was first established in 1996. In 2016, the firm incorporated and become EVOQ Architecture. EVOQ’s strength lies in its broad spectrum of expertise, and the firm operates a collaborative network of offices in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Iqaluit. EVOQ counts on an ample talent pool of over 150 professionals with specializations in heritage conservation, planning, work with Inuit and First Nations, contemporary residential and institutional design, and landscape architecture.
For over 30 years, ARTCAD has cultivated the resources and know-how to carry out most any type of architectural intervention, efficiently and reliably. Functionality, aesthetics, and environmental awareness are at the core of every project undertaken, from pre-design through construction. Based in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region, we work mainly north of the 48th parallel in administrative regions 08 and 10. We create customized solutions that speak to a deep understanding of our clientele’s needs, and to our highly diversified experience acquired over many years of sustained practice in the North. Every project entrusted to ARTCAD is led by an architectural project manager who is directly and consistently involved from the first sketches to final completion, ensuring a consistent approach and a high level of sensitivity to the overall vision and design intent.