The firm APPAREIL architecture opted for a minimalist, uncluttered and Nordic style for the renovation of a typical Montreal duplex, and ecological materials and natural light have been put forward to meet the needs of its residents.
The original building was chosen for its large backyard as well as for its prime location near the city centre and public transport, which was perfect for the green lifestyle of its new owners. Urban integration, sustainable materials and simplicity were the main guidelines for the transformation of the place, which was completely redesigned by architect Kim Pariseau and her team.
The firm first converted two dwellings into one single family home. The front of the residence has been modernized with a sober and simple facade, in order to respect the usual shape and style of this typical duplex and to blend well in with the other houses in the neighbourhood. The clients also wanted vast living areas and a great luminosity, and APPAREIL opened up the floor plan to create airy rooms. Large sliding doors and windows were added at the back of the house, where the kitchen and dining room are now located, offering a nice continuity inside and out.
APPAREIL played with different levels and volumes in order to define the space into separate zones without adding partitions. The living room, located at the centre of the ground level, was sunken about 16 inches compared to the rest of the main floor, giving a certain frame to the space and an inviting feel. A dual-level was created to enhance the light coming from an existing skylight; the upper floor is now an open and spacious mezzanine, where glass partitions were used to establish a visual connection with the ground floor. The staircase, now a great focal point, was designed with glass railings to allow the light to pass through the different levels.
Bioclimatic studies were completed with a certified consultant before the renovations. The insights gained, such as influx of natural light and heat intake, helped to rethink the space accordingly and to have a positive impact on the building performance. The polished concrete floor was chosen mainly for ecological reasons; it reflects light and provides an interesting thermal mass by storing heat from the sun, which is an important asset especially in winter. The new high efficiency walls offer a reduction of heating and cooling costs. Furthermore, a special attention was given to the use of local materials. The staircase, some of the flooring and the custom made built-in furniture are all made from ash from the province. The front facade of the home was covered in brick made of recycled components, while the back is clad with Eastern white cedar, another durable material from the area.