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Take Note: Atelier Boom-Town

Boomtown houses were dwellings erected en masse for newly arrived workers to the industrial and mining centres that blossomed across the country around the turn of the twentieth century. These houses were models of simplicity and efficiency, maximizing interior space while minimizing building costs and time.

Atelier Boom-Town principal Eric Joseph Tremblay grew up in Malartic, a boomtown city in the Abitibi region of Québec. His admiration for the minimalism of form and intrinsic beauty of these houses informs the mainly residential work he and his team produce.

Just as boomtown houses were produced to house workers quickly, cost-effectively and with at least a modicum of comfort, the work of Tremblay’s studio focuses on addressing client needs and then finding the best way to meet them. “The first thing we ask is how they live, what they do, what feeling they want. We focus on the need, then the solution.” The solution then arrives, especially where budgets are tight, in the creative use of design rather than impressive — and often expensive — extras. Priorities are set early, to allow space in the budget for larger windows, or to enhance found details such as structural trusses or a beautiful landscape.

The environment — not only from a sustainability standpoint, but an aesthetic one as well — also clearly figures in the design: where the sunlight falls, the placing of the building in its surroundings, the use of familiar, beautiful materials such as concrete, steel and wood.

“You don’t need to make a big statement with our buildings,” he says. “You want it to blend with the landscape, not stand out.”

 

Chalet du Bois Flotté

Chalet du Bois Flotté (The Driftwood Chalet) was designed to celebrate a sprawling hilltop view of the St. Lawrence Valley, and to minimize its environmental and visual impact on the pristine surroundings. Cedar cladding and other simple materials gave them the budget room to design around huge windows that open in summer, effectively doubling the living space.

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Loft Duvernay

An urban Montréal loft embraces an entirely different kind of landscape. A heritage industrial building, its beauty lay in its original brick and steel structure, rather than the views outside. Deconstructing the space and exposing its bones provided the opportunity to add multiple levels and interior vistas that change as you move through the space.

Photography by: Maxime Brouillet / Steve Montpetit

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