A safe place to call home: Institut Pacifique

The Institut Pacifique — a montreal-based conflict resolution and mediation for young people — received a new transformation, preserving the site’s historic property to help its community grow and develop.

Photo credit: Félix Audette

Since its founding in 1976, the building occupied the property located at 2901 Gouin Boulevard East, Montreal. The building is part of the Ancien-Village-du-Sault-au-Récollet heritage site, which was designated as such by the City of Montreal in 1992. The architectural concept, designed by CB Architecte, aimed to restore the appearance of the original house and to highlight the nature park that borders the property to the south and west.

Photo credit: Félix Audette

After 40 years of work, the community organization began to notice certain issues with its headquarters: a serious lack of space, difficulty reconciling the building’s various uses, fire safety concerns, an architecture that clashes with the occupants’ vitality, etc. The structure’s close quarters and disrepair constituted, above all, a significant obstacle to the organization’s social and educational contribution to the community.

The original house’s geometry was recovered by demolishing the series of additions from the 1970s and 1980s that had been erected without any consideration of the area’s character.

The new extension enclosed the house on the south and west facades, acting as a link between the existing built environment and the nature park. Numerous openings on the three levels of the new volume provide visual continuity with the landscape.

Photo credit: Félix Audette

The alignment of the north and east facades, the alignment of the parapet and cornice, the glassed-in spaces at the junction of the new and old sections, and the extension’s contemporary look—without resemblance to what was there before—were all conceptual choices that contribute to giving the house a defined identity.

Inside, the original house’s geometry and architectural particularities were also showcased. Beneath the cathedral ceiling, a mezzanine was added to maximize the convertible floors.

Photo credit: Félix Audette

This space became one of the project’s key points of interest, with its double-height ceilings, natural light, bull’s-eye window, and exposed structure. On the home’s interior walls, where the extension joins the existing structure, alcoves made of reclaimed wood provide workspaces, waiting rooms, and places for impromptu meetings.

As a community organization, the need for room is immense, while the budget is limited. Each space had to be well thought-out and optimized to allow for multiple uses. A major challenge was to create harmonious coexistence between the organization’s administration and the areas designed for kids.

Photo credit: Félix Audette

At garden level, the children’s rooms were adjacent to the yard with a play area[É2], and the staff offices were located on the top floor. On the ground floor, where the entrance was located, that coexistence takes shape: the administrative reception area, the children’s reception area, the worker-parent-child room, the worker-child reflection area, etc.

Each space was planned following an analysis of the movement patterns of the three main user types (management, staff, and children) in order to ensure a fluid, functional flow.

 

Technical sheet

Client: Institut Pacifique

Location: Montréal, Québec, Canada

Date of work: 2019

Area: 15,890 sq. ft.

Architect: CB Architecte

Landscape architect: Fahey et associés

Engineer: CIMA+

General contractor: KF Construction

Photographer: Félix Audette

 

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