Located in the heart of Montreal’s Griffintown district, phase V of the Îlot St Ann multi-residential development project has been entrusted to LemayMichaud. The firm’s mandate was to design and execute the development of blocks 5 and 6, the last phase of the project and the only one dedicated to the rental market. With the objective of offering many units of various sizes with the possibility of combining them to make multigenerational spaces, it is a total of 205 housing units designed and integrated into a deconstructed volumetry composed of three distinct masses.
The client’s request also included the development of the rooftop common areas with views of Mount Royal and the city. So, the team worked on the integration of a green roof and a terrace on the 10th floor and the Chalet Urbain, an outdoor relaxation space on the 15th floor with, among other things, a swimming pool and a barbecue. In addition to the multi-residential part to be built, the mandate included the restoration and renovation of the heritage building located across the street, block 6, in order to provide additional services for residents.
The challenges of designing rental housing buildings
The team working on blocks 5 and 6 had to consider several factors in developing the new concept: the previously approved squre footage of the residential development, the constraints of the other buildings already constructed and the unique geometry of Griffintown, more triangular.
Another challenge and not the least was to create an efficient layout plan to integrate many units of various sizes while making sure to optimize the plumbing alignment. The layout also had to be flexible and allow units to be combined or separated depending on market demand. Thus, the interior layout was an important step that required 3D color planning to establish the communication links between the units and demonstrate their flexibility. Wherever possible, a large unit is adjacent to a smaller one to allow a connexion between a family and a grandparent, a couple with an adult child or even to allow someone to live near one or more people in need of assistance. Moreover, to meet this demand for flexibility in the interior layout, two choices were made: the integration of continuous balconies and abundant fenestration.
Respecting the pedestrian scale
For phase 5 of the project, the larger part dedicated to housing units, it was crucial to respect the pedestrian scale and the architecture of the heritage structure in front. Therefore, the new building’s podium is strongly inspired by the materiality and size of the small two-storey heritage building to create a townhouse language at its perimeter. In addition, the building was set back from the lot line in order to create a plaza between the two phases, thus allowing for a better fusion with the neighbourhood activity. The result is an environment enlivened by entrances, terraces and balconies, harmonized by the warm brick that characterizes the neighbourhood.
It was important for the team to minimize the impression of the building’ mass so that it is less imposing on a human scale and a harmonious integration into the urban context. Thus, the volume in the foreground up to the 10th floor is covered with a white painted metallic finish and white screen printed glass railings, well integrated into the composition. This treatment brings a horizontal language that responds to the scale of the other buildings on de la Montagne Street. The volume in the background, darker with a charcoal gray brick cladding and also clad in screen printed glass railings but in a dark shade, responds to the scale of the buildings in the other phases of this same block. Combined with the brick podium, the composition fits perfectly into its context.
Restoration and renovation of the heritage building
Erected in 1920, the building was formerly the headquarters of the Oka Sand and Gravel Company, a heritage that the team wanted to celebrate and transcribe.
The mandate was to restore and rethink the layout for the new functions of the place, i.e. the integration of common spaces for residents to receive friends or family or to co-work upstairs and the establishment of a business on the ground floor. To avoid seismic compliance, the team arranged the space by keeping the existing openings without creating new ones, both vertically and horizontally, in order to keep the diaphragm intact. This created the opportunity to add a new exit with an extension at the rear of the building, completely glazed and composed of a screen-printed glass curtain wall which repeats the intersecting grids and which appears textured with gravel, paying homage to the history of the site.