Blanchette Architectes recently designed Minéral, the latest bar project from entrepreneurs and restaurateurs Mathieu Ménard and Steve Grenier. A wine bar by day and a nightclub after dark, the festive space creates a discreet atmosphere in the heart of Montréal’s Gay Village.
For the project’s architects, the starting point was simple: a musical title for each of the three distinct ambiances that succeed each other as the night goes on. Based on that idea, the design team imagined a space whose atmosphere could change radically from its late-afternoon opening to its late-night peak.
Working in close collaboration with the client, the architects imagined an evolving scenic design where “sound vibrations translate to waves of colour, staying with the guest from their first after-work cocktail until late at night.”
Architecture, light, and the soundscape were all handled as raw materials to frame the bar’s atmosphere at different times of the day. The ‘warmly glacial’ space plays on the warm-cool duality of colours, materials, and light. Soothing light is projected onto wall-mounted canvases, reminiscent of art installations like those of James Turrell.
“Before we reimagined it, the space was particularly dark and poorly lit. We had to work with luminous walls and facing mirrors to let the space breathe. The idea was to take control of the lighting,” said Patrick Blanchette, founder of Blanchette Architectes.
Simple materials were used as the backdrop for the dramatic lighting: wood, metal, leather, and polycarbonate. The bar’s co-owner, Mathieu Ménard, is not only an entrepreneur, but also a cabinetmaker. He organized the space around woodwork: the bar in black-lacquered wood and the imposing, Japanese-inspired wooden ceiling structure, a nod to wine cellars. These elements are infused with light, showcasing the woodwork.
One goal was to imagine simple details using easy-to-work materials with intrinsic esthetic qualities. Plants growing between the polycarbonate panels complete the scene and help create a dreamy, mysterious landscape.