Text description provided by the architects. The Rue de la Gauchetière project restores a loft apartment in the Old Port of Montreal. Located in a hundred-year-old heritage building called ‘Unity’, the design seeks to integrate nature and family living into a space that is decisively urban while celebrating its industrial origins. The design is manifested through a simple concept: a box inside the box. Two glazed wooden volumes are thoughtfully arranged within the concrete structure and programmed as bedrooms. They are used to organize the residential functions. Kitchen, living, dining, study, reading, and exercise areas take life on their periphery in a fluid and open plan.
At once object and architecture, the bedroom is crafted as a bespoke kit of parts including everything from ceiling panels and mullions, to flooring and furniture. A series of automated blinds—both sheer and blackout—transform it from a private room to a floating lantern. Inspired by the original character of the building, the loft’s material palette is elemental and tactile; walnut plywood echoes the earth tones of the brick walls, warm greys pick up on the rough concrete, pervasive glass and mirrors emphasize the airiness of the space while the ample addition of greenery adds a dream-like, natural dimension.
With flexibility and light as the top priority, we quickly began to conceptualize alternatives for the ubiquitous ‘drywall with swing door’ room that dictates much of residential interior design. Our solution—a minimal, convertible wooden volume placed within an open space plan—creates new possibilities for how to:
Design adaptable, flexible spaces that can satisfy multiple program use; Maximise floor plan by creating small peripheral spaces smartly designed to fit bespoke needs of a different inhabitants; Create a bedroom that transforms from public (all glass) to semi-private (sheer blinds) to private (blackout blinds); Celebrate the feeling of collectivity through an open plan that respects privacy needs; Respect the building heritage with a bedroom type that blurs the boundary between furniture and architecture and reflects the industrial context without covering or altering it; Implement an elemental and earthy material palette that focuses on how natural textures—especially wood—can have calming/positive effects on inhabitants while creating a warm, minimalistic aesthetic; Expose the beauty of the very structure of the room by implementing a wooden column and beam grid with strong proportions; Build with materials and techniques that are easily unmountable and reusable in future renovations.
Rue de la Gauchetière loft offers a way to live outside the norm, allowing its inhabitants to experience the benefits of togetherness, flexibility, and timeless beauty inspired by its unconventional floor plan and design.