Repurposing factories as townhouses with heritage flair

October 30, 2018

A Montréal structure formerly dedicated to manufacturing and warehousing has been repurposed as residential spaces. Photo © Steve Montpetit[1]
A Montréal structure formerly dedicated to manufacturing and warehousing has been repurposed as residential spaces.
Photo © Steve Montpetit

Located in the heart of the Plateau Mont-Royal district in Montréal, the Monument project explores an architectural orientation that allows the design of bright, open residential spaces in a structure formerly dedicated to manufacturing and warehousing, while ensuring the conservation of the urban heritage.

The original building was built in 1905 to host the manufacturing unit of The Saint Louis Preserving Company. The former, whose architectural details are reduced to a brick decor imitating machicolations at the cornice and window coping of segmented arches, is brick-clad. In 1912, the unit was enlarged by the addition of a new wing. The company, which remained active until 1924, mainly produced jams, jellies, marmalades, pickles, hot sauces, and syrup extract.

In 1927, the lingerie company Grenier took over to install its manufacturing plant and an addition was built in 1933. This was carried out according to the plans of the architect Joseph-Zéphirin Gauthier and unified the different parts of the building in a new façade. The latter, in brick masonry, is punctuated by a regular arrangement of the fenestration, composed of a rectangular window. The fenestration is interrupted by the semicircular opening of the entrance. The company will leave the building in 2012.

The original building consists of two floors and a basement. Its structure is mixed and comprises steel beams and columns, wood joists, and concrete floor.

Designed by Blouin Tardif Architectes[2], the Monument project’s strategy consisted of limiting interventions on existing enclosure and floors, adding a fragmented level to the roof, and puncturing a few openings in the existing frame to increase the penetration of natural light into the centre of the volume. The new layout comprises seven units and parking spaces in the basement.

The three units on the ground floor benefit from numerous openings on the outer perimeter. Some of the openings simulate the effect of a window from the outside, but a fully wood-finished loggia is actually fitted behind the enclosure. The integration of the mechanical systems and the structural strengthening for the interventions of the upper levels are concealed within the ceilings. Although the heights are different, the alignment and continuity of the wood finish of the exterior soffits inwards accentuate the size of the spaces.

The second and third floors are occupied by four townhouses with courtyards and terraces. At the lower level, the bedrooms, bathrooms, and an office are organized around the courtyard carved into the existing structure. The living spaces occupy the expansion on the third floor. The 3-m (10-ft) high ceilings and generous glazing flood the units and interior spaces with natural light.

Wood siding clads the interior of the courtyards and terraces, thereby creating continuity with the interior spaces where the same material is found on the floor and ceiling.

The envelope of the addition is treated like an attic in metal cladding. From the inner courtyards, the aluminum pellets of contrasting colours transform to a more random pattern accentuating the effect of depth and brightness as reflected by the building envelope.

Endnotes:
  1. [Image]: https://www.constructioncanada.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/montreal.jpg
  2. Blouin Tardif Architectes: http://www.btae.ca/

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