By Daphnée Malboeuf
The creation of accessible and affordable transitory spaces for all in Montréal’s abandoned buildings is what the founders of Entremise wanted to put into place by creating the Young Project, a temporary occupancy pilot project located in the heart of the Quartier de l’Innovation.
“Connecting spaces without people to people without spaces” is the slogan behind the project, which will soon see the light of day in a municipal industrial building on Young Street.
Moved by the desire to fill the city’s numerous vacant spaces, Entremise founders Jonathan Lapalme, Mallory Wilson, and Philémon Gravel undertook the project to create a new type of civic and collaborative space that would help redefine the issue of vacancies in Montréal, while also offering people the chance to occupy temporary spaces at a modest price.
“Vacant spaces are like a paradox of urbanization in modern cities. The juxtaposition of people in need of space and abandoned spaces is a bit of a paradox,” says Jonathan Lapalme, Director of Policies and Design and a Co-Founder of Entremise. “We can all agree that it’s unacceptable to leave unused buildings inaccessible to the public.”
That’s why the Young Project will make 5,000 ft² available for a period of around 22 months, from mid-February 2018 to December 31, 2019.
Mallory Wilson, Philémon Gravel and Jonathan Lapalme, founders of Entremise.
A Necessary Change
In addition to distorting the landscape and destroying public heritage, several negative consequences occur when a building is left vacant, such as the increased risk of fires.
And thanks to the Montréal Transitoire symposium, the idea of transitory urbanism has become a priority for the municipal administration.
In partnership with Entremise, the Maison de l’Innovation sociale (MIS), and the McConnell Foundation, the Ville de Montréal has committed to transform ten vacant public buildings for transitory use.
“We will truly transform the buildings for temporary use, as a response to the problems, risks, and costs related to vacancy, and also as an answer to the need for affordable, flexible spaces that will help develop a new way of community living,” Lapalme adds.
Contrary to co-working spaces, which already exist throughout the city, the Young Project will attempt to create diversity among its users, which will prove beneficial for people who require a larger work area per person, for example artists or community organizations.
With the goal of striking a balance between people’s different needs, the prices of rented spaces will be calculated in relation to the number of square feet occupied and the number of people working in that space.
As these temporary spaces are meant to act as incubators for people who are thinking big, candidates are asked to present their social, cultural, environmental, and entrepreneurial projects.
“It’s a transitional space for the people who will establish themselves here,” emphasizes Lapalme. “It’s for organizations that are developing and that don’t want to have their offices in their living rooms or at coffee shops any more, but that don’t have the means yet to afford an office in the current market.”
“The fact that it’s in the centre of the Quartier de l’Innovation helps create an environment of experimentation. We felt that by choosing this location, we could bring a lot to the district.”
A selection committee will be responsible for choosing the future occupants from among those who submitted their applications, by January 22.