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  1. ArchDaily
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  3. Housing
  4. Canada
  5. KANVA
  6. 2012
  7. Irène / KANVA

Irène / KANVA

  • 00:00 - 12 February, 2013
Irène / KANVA
© Jimmy Hamelin
© Jimmy Hamelin

© Marc Cramer © Marc Cramer © Marc Cramer © Marc Cramer + 16

© Marc Cramer
© Marc Cramer

Text description provided by the architects. The urban housing project, Irène, located in Montreal’s borough, St-Henri, exemplifies innovation as a valuable design tool to individualize a building within the City. Perforated aluminium panels were customized into a novel exterior building envelope that screens the upper three storeys of an addition above an existing industrial building. Drawing an analogy with a theatrical curtain, the metallic skin acts equally to veil and to reveal the activity within, serving a performative function that adds a touch of spectacle to the neighbourhood.

Courtesy of KANVA
Courtesy of KANVA

The design process was prominently embedded throughout the building; the steps taken during conceptual design and the research & development phases lead to the decision to make an architectural feature the iconic persona of the project. Irène substantiates the incorporation of a poetic concept in conjunction with a challenging technical innovation to give rise to a functional, viable and aesthetic project. 

© Jimmy Hamelin
© Jimmy Hamelin

The site presented the opportunity to renovate and restore an existing two-storey industrial building dating back to 1938. A considerable effort was made to study and understand both the residual building and the surrounding context, presently undergoing substantial urban revitalization. For the three-storey addition, the approach was to create the impression of a light and floating volume atop the existing, heavier base — a contrasting superstructure that, by virtue of its difference, gives rise to a dialogue between old and new, tradition and contemporary, the building and its surroundings. 

© Marc Cramer
© Marc Cramer

A play of transparency and opacity defined a perforation pattern that made use of three distinct hole sizes and spacing. These modular panels created an overall image replicating the curtain analogy. Much like a skin, this perforated metal cladding on the south facing facades, allows the building to breathe, while serving as a passive sun shield. Its user-operated panel system lets occupants control variables like ventilation, daylight and privacy. 

Courtesy of KANVA
Courtesy of KANVA

Translating the conceptual image into a tangible product was a complex procedure entailing extensive research and design, modelling, testing and on site trouble-shooting. Precedence for this type of building envelope system in our Northern climate was not readily available. The user-operable components needed to be designed to withstand the climatic challenges, such as freeze/thaw cycle, snow/ice interference and wind loads.

© Marc Cramer
© Marc Cramer

A full-scale mock-up of the paneling system was erected to study issues of operability, aesthetics, feasibility, durability, waterproofing, wind patterns, solar screening (optimal perforation size) and transparency/opacity for light and privacy concerns. This allowed a refinement of the facade system before final on-site validations.

Elevation and Model
Elevation and Model

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Cite: "Irène / KANVA" 12 Feb 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/331086/irene-kanva/> ISSN 0719-8884
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