Case Study 3: TOHU, la Cite des arts du cirque / Circus Arts
Type: Other - Circus Arts

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Location: Montreal, Quebec
Approximate gross area: 3650 m2
Number of floors above ground: 2
Year of completion: 2004

Contact / Nominator: Jacques Charest, Cité des arts du cirque
Architect: Architect Jacques Plante, Jodoin Lamarre
Pratte and Associates, architects - in consortium

Energy analysis: Martin Roy et associés.
Study and simulation of the airflow in the building:
Andreas Athienitis, Université Concordia, Montréal

Awards: Prix d’excellence 2004 Institut Canadien Steel Institute: Sustainable Development
Brownie Award 2004 Canadian Urban Institute : Green Design and Technical Innovation
Brownie Award 2004 Canadian Urban Institute : Best Overall Project.
Trophée Contech 2004: Innovative practice in sustainable development
Trophée Contech 2004: Innovative practice in industrial, commercial and institutional building


General Description: TOHU, la Cité des arts du cirque, is a non-profit organization founded by En Piste (the national association of circus arts professionals, companies and institutions), the National Circus School (École nationale de cirque) and Cirque du Soleil

Assessment Team: Danny Pearl - L'OEUF, Doug Corbett - Corbett Cibinel Architects

TOHU will be awarded the ‘gold’ level in the international LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certificate program. This program imposes the strictest standards of environmental respect, not only during construction, but also in the ensuing management of the completed building.

The GBTool results   
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Absolute Performance Results









    1. Eco Heating:
      One of the ways that durable development was put into effect at the pavilion came from an agreement with Gazmont, a business right next door to TOHU. Gazmont converts biogas from an excavation site at the Saint-Michel environmental Complex into energy. The combustion of biogas makes water boil, this produces steam which then turns a turbine and electricity is created! Once electricity is produced, the steam must be cooled, which forms a large white cloud over the factory. A portion of the hot water produced in this cooling process is routed to the TOHU pavilion and circulates through a network of ducts throughout the floor of the building. This source of energy, also called co-generating, does not emit any greenhouse effect gases and saves 20% compared to the cost of a conventional heating system.
    2. Passive geothermics and Ice Bunker:
      To regulate temperatures during the summer season, TOHU turns to passive geothermics and an ‘ice tray’ that visitors may observe through a window in the floor of the reception area. Passive geothermics uses underground ducts that allow pre-heating or pre-cooling of fresh air, and the ice bunker can accumulate 10 000 kg of ice to cool the theatre when a show is on. These two sources of energy are renewable and do not emit greenhouse effect gases. Nowhere else in the country has an enterprise so effectively used passive geothermics in combination with the concept of low velocity diffusion.
    3. Natural/hybrid ventilation:
      Natural/hybrid ventilation consumes 70% less energy than traditional ventilation systems. This system uses the funnel effect of the theatre to diffuse the air with a low velocity system rather than traditional ventilation.
    4. Natural basin:
      A natural basin bordering the administrative sector of the building receives and retains rainwater, which gradually flows into the Ville de Montréal rain sewers. Thanks to this basin, TOHU has a natural system, eliminating the need to construct a traditional underground retention system of massive concrete ducts.
    5. Recycled metal structure makes a grand entrance:
      The grand stairway is adorned with recycled pieces from old La Ronde bumper cars that have been transformed into a ramp. Recycled metal beams from Angus factories are also integrated into the structure of the pavilion. These objects, prominently displayed in the reception hall, symbolize the metropolitan industrial heritage.

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