Montréal post‐war residence transformed into two twin houses

May 25, 2020

A post-war residence in Montréal, Qué., was transformed by APPAREIL Architecture into two twin houses. Photo courtesy Félix Michaud[1]
A post-war residence in Montréal, Qué., was transformed by APPAREIL Architecture into two twin houses.
Photo courtesy Félix Michaud

A post-war residence in Verdun (a borough in Montréal, Qué.) was transformed by Montréal‐based firm APPAREIL Architecture[2] into two twin houses.

An architect and her partner, parents of twins, called on APPAREIL Architecture to design the expansion and refurbishing of the veterans’ home. Since the client Catherine Gauthier is an architect herself, the project was conceptualized through collaboration and communication among all parties.

The concept imagined by APPAREIL Architecture was developed around the theme of duality, recreating the existing volume through a ‘sister house,’ or Maison Soeur.

Since the residence is a veterans’ home, typical lodging of Montréal’s 1950s working-class neighbourhoods, it was important to respect its architectural heritage. The stakes consisted in highlighting the volume characteristic to this type of building, while giving it a second life that better responded to the new owners’ need for space. The extension, thus, presents itself as a reinterpretation of the existing structure, through its silhouette and physicality. The roof’s double-sloped archetype is reproduced, as is its masonry envelope.

In the new extension, openings and luminosity are emphasized by generous windows. The interior spaces offer distinct layouts, favouring connections between the rooms and the garden. The layout ensures abundant light throughout the interior spaces, whose pale hues contrast with the dark brick of the new façades.

The plan maximizes liveable areas by reducing traffic and creating interplays of transparency that reinforce the connection between interior and exterior. Between the old and new volumes, a glass and grating footbridge subtly emphasizes the passage between the two eras. At the heart of the extension, the kitchen stands out by its luminosity and its direct relationship with a large adjoining garden.

This project was designed to adapt to numerous construction constraints, all while maintaining a strong distinction between the volumes and an abundant entry of light. Born from a collaborative process, the Maison Soeur preserves its recent heritage through a somber and pragmatic architecture.

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