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Quebec, Canada



485 km2


Open competition


Assignment completed


Québec City


Martin Arfalk, Patrick Verhoeven, 

Danny Bridson, Alessandro Macaluso,

Giulia di Dio Balsamo, Emilia Puotinen


L’Atelier Urbain, Marina Nart

Return to the source 

A Hydrological Approach to the Future of Quebec City 


Quebec City was founded atop Cap Diamant, overlooking the St Lawrence, and the estuary of its four rivers: The St. Charles, Cap rouge, Beauport and Montmorency.

No longer recognisable, that estuary has been reduced, contained and hidden by 400 years of development. Today, it is easy to mistake the four rivers as isolated entities. This could not be further from the truth. In fact, the four rivers represent the most visible elements of a regional hydrology network that has formed the region’s landscape for eons.

Return to the Source is an ambitious proposal to reshape Quebec City through its underlying hydrological network. This transformation is achieved by embracing three attitudes towards its future - The protection and expansion of the rivers’ territories, the transformation of the rivers’ banks, and the adaptation of the existing urban structure. 

Not four rivers, but one interconnected system

Quebec City’s urban structure is the missing piece of its regional hydrological network, how can it be integrated in the future?

Expand + Transform + Adapt

Three key strategies outline an regional vision to reconnect Quebec City back to its four rivers.

Complementing attitudes 

EXPAND identifies, understands and protects the essential ingredients of the rivers’ anatomy. TRANSFORM outlines a landscape based development strategy that densifies the city and ADAPT is a set of strategies that aims to integrate the existing urban structure into the hydrological system.

Interventions that adapt

A number of solutions - big and small - adapt the city to its new hydrological future!

Expanding the banks

The St. Charles River expand and forms a new threshold between urban life and river habitat. 

Transforming the river experience 

The proposed St. Charles canal invites new forms of public life in the cold winter months.

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