NatureHumaine, a Montreal-based architecture firm, has worked on a variety of projects spanning from museums, restaurants, houses, to office spaces, but one of their most exciting jobs to date the Alexandra Residence - a property that embodies the "creative, unusual, and fantastic" - by incorporating elements from each of these environments. Functioning as both an office space and residence, the property accommodates the client's love for a clean lined minimal aesthetic.
The image above highlights the diversity of Montreal's Mile-Ex district. Flanked by an industrial building and a residential unit, the Alexandra Residence lives in a unique area that’s portrayed by factories, auto body shops, residential buildings, and converted industrial buildings. This property is one of a handful of experimental contemporary buildings in Mile-Ex’s 1.5-square-kilometer enclave which received building approvals. Unlike many of the historical residential neighbourhoods protected by heritage laws, the Mile-Ex district allows unique contemporary architecture to be created. Contemporary designs, which incorporate the industrial aesthetic that characterizes the area, are welcomed additions.
The client’s priority was to maximize the natural light in their new residence, which is also used as a workspace. This was made challenging by the east-west orientation of the infill lot. Luckily, NatureHumaine’s designs brought a light-bulb solution to this minor snag. The architects filled the core of the house with light through the implementation of a two-storey light-well, which runs the length of the southern side of the house. Additional light is reflected into this light-well by the client’s office space – a white volume that sits atop the northern edge light-well. Rooms on the second floor also benefit from the light well’s luminosity; the walls adjacent to it are fully glazed, and a floor-to-ceiling piece of frosted glass brings a very soft light into the bathroom. This surge of light enhances the space, while it simultaneously decreases the use of electricity.
The steel framing and tall windows add light and definition to the space, while also responding to the industrial surroundings. The two-storey light well allows the natural daylight to enter every floor, and creates a visual play of light and shadow in the interior. But it’s the sunken living room, with its variety of floor materials, and neutral colours, that create a beautiful balance of light and space in the client’s more private quarters of the house.
The frosted glass adds softness to the angular space, and opens an area of visual rest from the dynamic shifting of planes and light.
The Alexandra Residence balances work space and living quarters to accommodate the client's lifestyle.
Enter the workspace that’s located on the third floor, and outfitted with three separate working areas. Adjunct to the office is a rooftop patio and green space; connected by a large window, the two spaces join together to offer rest from office work.
The frosted glass material returns on the floor space of the kitchen – could it be a visual substitute to an indoor pond?
Laid with forward and backward facing bricks, the back facade of the house is dynamic and expressive, as aluminum encased windows pop out from the dark brick wall as if they were floating.
The Alexandra Residence is a wonderful example of the new trend in Montreal, where unique and contemporary architecture is being embraced and celebrated.
Houseporn loves NatureHumaine's unique projects. Do you? View more of our posts on NatureHumaine's creations by clicking on the links below:
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For more on Montreal's colourful Mile-Ex neighbourhood, read Montreal Gazette's article: Urban Villages: Mile-Ex's multiple personalities
All Images Copyright to Adrien Williams
Information on the Alexandra Residence provided by ArchDaily
Researched and Written by Sara Nicole England, undergraduate of OCAD University, Toronto in the Criticism and Curatorial Practice Program.