Every university student knows that moving away from home for the first time can be daunting, but the right dorm can make all the difference.
At Montreal's McGill University, this dorm in a historic former factory gave me serious pause in deciding whether to apply.
Solin Hall exterior, McGill University.
This dorm is an example of how adaptive reuse can transform a place that was once used for industry into a space for domesticity. The huge brick building was originally a chocolate factory at the turn of the century. Bought by McGill University in 1989 for use as a student dorm, this was to be the first domestic use of the space. The building has alternatively also been a bottling plant, warehouse, and kite factory.
The renovation, developed by McGill University, sought to emphasize communal living. Common areas became known as 'living pods,' where rooms were grouped around common areas, accessibility was optimized, and a shared dining hall was introduced.
Today the building - called Solin Hall - is outfitted with apartment style housing for students ranging from studio to 4 bedroom units.
Along with its charming red brick facade, the building's interiors feature high ceilings and massive windows, artifacts of the building's origins.
A Solin Hall living room.
As part of the historical industrial district of Saint-Henri, Montreal, this building was a manufacturing site for decades.
However, since it was converted in 1990, this dorm has been home to students seeking an urbane location that affords some respite from the intensity of McGill's university campus.
Representing an excellent example of how adaptive reuse conversions can transform a space and an area, this obsolete factory might otherwise have been demolished.
Instead, its revitalization helps retain the flavour and fabric of this historical industrial district.
Bright and inviting living rooms.
Want to learn more about these accommodations? Learn more about the social and sustainable details of this renovation.
All photos courtesy of McGill University.
Researched and Written by Emily E.A. Stringer, Undergraduate of Sociology, and Geography: Environment & Sustainability, at the University of British Columbia.