Lightemotion’s personification of inanimate objects infuses life into an urban public square

Lightemotion, a global lighting design consultancy creating pathways to enhanced human experiences, proudly presents its enlightenment of Square Viger, a neglected public space bridging Montreal’s contemporary downtown core with the preserved history of Old Montreal. Forming part of an 8-year contemporary overhaul to restore the space as a green and accessible public square, the project anchors around the preservation of an existing historic monument, and the revival of pergolas originally designed by Quebec artist Charles Daudelin.

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Photo credit: Charles Masse

Heeding the call

In addition to restoring elements of Square Viger’s past, the project envisioned the infusion of fresh new life to carry the public space beyond the present and into the future. On a macro level, that vision unfolded through the addition of abundant perennial plants able to withstand the challenging elements of Montreal’s four-seasons, as well as through the addition of more than 50 new trees. In addition to the preserved historic monument paying tribute to Jean-Olivier Chénier, and the concrete arches of Daudelin’s work, Lightemotion had two beautiful new fountains to work. In assessing all of its various elements, they formed a view of Square Viger as a metaphorical stage of stages, with tiers of actors including the art, the monument, the fountains, and the surrounding landscape of trees and vegetation. Determined to steer clear of a solution comprising a flat field of light, the firm embarked on the design of a moody environment to bring Square Viger’s actors to life.


Photo credit: Charles Masse


Photo credit: Charles Masse

A vibrant scenography

The illumination of Lightemotion’s stage began with a focus on Daudelin’s art, creating individual lighting for each concrete slab. In the context of art gallery lighting, the firm infused it with movement to create a sense of strolling through a meandering canyon. At night, the resulting lighting scheme brings it all to life, injecting breath into otherwise inanimate objects.


Photo credit: Charles Masse


Photo credit: Charles Masse

Reflections of life

While Square Viger’s two new fountains were illuminated by the builders, Lightemotion added a euphoric blue light presentation that metaphorically represents the water they contain. In continuing the focus on bringing all of its actors to life, Lightemotion set the stage for the illumination of Square Viger’s vegetation. With greenery spread across their stage, the firm created a series of highlights and projected shadows that vary through a four-season lifecycle. Lightemotion’s design of dynamic uplighting at the base of the trees subtly changes in intensity throughout the evening, creating shadows that move in and out of the living, breathing space.


Photo credit: Charles Masse

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Photo credit: Charles Masse

Backstage technology

Every lighting element of Square Viger is like a paint brush with a variety of hues, brought to life with time loops synchronized to evolve throughout the night under the control of dimmers on a DMX system. Subtle changes occur throughout the evening, as if breathing, intensifying, and then softening. That theme of concealed apparatus extends to the Daudelin pieces, with a wall wash of light generated by small fixtures concealed in their concrete grooves. Delicate uplighting illuminates the trees from embedded positions in the ground that are not overly present, but which provide each of the actors with presence and dynamism.


Photo credit: Charles Masse

A beacon of rejuvenation

With the collective lighting of Square Viger also providing surrounding buildings with a soothing aerial presentation, Lightemotion has succeeded in creating a beautiful visual signature in an area that has long been devoid of such elements. From the ground level, the firm’s innovative schemes entice and welcome visitors with their plays of light and shadows, viewed by users through a variety of perspectives from the Square’s different entry angles. Square Viger is now a prominent new presence in Montreal’s night sky, infusing life and love into a peaceful public space where people can gather and reflect within a timeless design that will be relevant for many years to come.


Photo credit: Charles Masse

About Lightemotion

Lightemotion’s wide range of work, both in Canada and internationally, focuses on the creation of specific emotions, no matter how challenging and limiting constraints may be. From the early stages of design, the Lightemotion team occupies an important seat at the table, working closely with clients to bring their visions to life in reinvented retail and hospitality spaces. Lightemotion’s experience and expertise helps transform retail and hospitality spaces into multisensory experiences, where viewing merchandise in a brick-and-mortar store, eating food in a dining hall, or visiting a museum with friends become irresistible and memorable moments.