The transformation of a banal, ubiquitous object—the shipping pallet—into a space for opera. The pallet is envisioned as a total architectural artefact, serving as building material, structural system and stage set. Its use for this temporary, open-air performance space is a kind of journey: from factory to stage and back. The project designed by Jaques Plante and Pascale Pierre is located in Quebec City, in a courtyard of the Conservatoire. It will be built in July 2011 for the Quebec International Opera Festival.

The pallet is the most widely manufactured object of the post-war period, not only in North America, which is its birth place, but all over the world. It is also the most anonymous object. At first, it was designed with a side of 1.2 m so as to cover without loss the whole area of a train wagon, much as Japanese homes are designed according to the standardized dimensions of tatami mattresses. Later, cardboard boxes were introduced to cover each pallet according to different assemblies. Finally, the fork-lift truck appeared, making it possible to quickly move and stack pallets. Nowadays, steel containers have taken the place of train wagons. They are designed according to the dimensions of these same pallets. Pallets are now produced with different designs and degrees of sturdiness—not only in wood, but also in plastic, steel and recycled materials. 

The concept of this research project is to use the pallet as it is—in its form, dimensions and materials, to reinterpret it in an innovative and aesthetic manner in the context of a temporary installation—the « Pallet Opera », and finally to return it to the manufacturer for its initial use. The research project is designed around three distinct “acts.” The first act consists of virtual and video design in a laboratory; the second act, of spatial, technical and technological experimentations and validation, also in a laboratory; the third act, of an actual in situ realization. The lasting architectural project becomes here an ephemeral work of public art.

Images ©Alexandre Guerin


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