Villeneuve Residence in Montréal, Canada by Atelier Barda architecture | Yellowtrace

Villeneuve Residence in Montréal, Canada by Atelier Barda architecture | Yellowtrace

Villeneuve Residence in Montréal, Canada by Atelier Barda architecture | Yellowtrace

Villeneuve Residence in Montréal, Canada by Atelier Barda architecture | Yellowtrace

 

Canadian architecture firm Atelier Barda has converted a Montréal building that once housed two apartments above a grocery store into a single-family home dubbed “Résidence Villeneuve”. The façade consists of two timber-framed storefront windows positioned on either side of a central door. The plot on which the building stands is located between a southwest-facing side yard (formerly used for unloading and storing merchandise) and a long garage with a shed above.

The clients’ original brief involved transforming the side yard into a garden—a rare and sought-after asset in this densely populated neighbourhood. The clients also wanted a complete redesign of the commercial space on the ground floor and the first-floor apartment to create a single-family home over two levels, keeping a rental unit on top.

The orientation of the façade and side wall offered great potential for openings and light, but the proposed transformation would inevitably result in a loss of privacy, given the proximity of neighbours and the street.

Based on this observation, the proposed redesign sought to address the following challenge: How does one create a relationship between private and public in a residence with a storefront?

The first idea was to present the clients as the protagonists of the project, revealing fragments of their narrative to passers-by while ensuring their privacy at specific times. The direct relationship between the clients and passers-by would be highlighted rather than ignored.

 

Villeneuve Residence in Montréal, Canada by Atelier Barda architecture | Yellowtrace

Villeneuve Residence in Montréal, Canada by Atelier Barda architecture | Yellowtrace

Villeneuve Residence in Montréal, Canada by Atelier Barda architecture | Yellowtrace

Villeneuve Residence in Montréal, Canada by Atelier Barda architecture | Yellowtrace

Villeneuve Residence in Montréal, Canada by Atelier Barda architecture | Yellowtrace

Villeneuve Residence in Montréal, Canada by Atelier Barda architecture | Yellowtrace

 

The entire redesign was guided by two complementary themes: a play between seen and unseen and cinematographic framing. The former storefront windows were conserved, not only to let in light but also, importantly, to create some ambivalence between what is shown and hidden.

To achieve this effect, a service block was built in front of the window. Housing a closet, powder room and bookcase, it serves as a transitional space towards the private area on the ground floor. Its role is to create a visual screen from the street without blocking the window. Passers-by can therefore only catch glimpses of the family moving from one space to another. Although the façade is largely permeable, the entire living area on the ground floor is not visible from the street, other than the passageways and interstitial spaces. Curtains give the living area a theatrical look. An office space was also created in the entranceway. When the space is being used in the evening, it accentuates the cinematographic framing of the large front window, evoking the painting Nighthawks, by Edward Hopper.

The use of colour helps to stage the space. From the street, the service block may be seen in subtle shades of pink. These contrast with the living area where the green shades of the kitchen complement the terrazzo-style concrete floor. Several architectural details create points of interest in the interior space—from the choice of materials to the use of curves, to custom-designed elements such as the range hood and banister.

By working with the constraints of the existing space, the design successfully reveals the building’s true essence.

 

 


Images courtesy of Atelier Barda architecture. Photography by Maxime Desbiens.]

 

About The Author

Team Yellowtrace

Team Yellowtrace is a small and highly dedicated bunch of cool kids who assist in the production of design stories, general admin and correspondence associated with each and every post. The team works tirelessly behind the scenes, providing invaluable support to the Editor In Chief. Extreme love and respect to the power of ten!

Leave a Reply