Montreal, Canada, 2011-03-13 -
The clients wished to enlarge their 800sq-ft bungalow by adding a second floor to the existing structure. However, the poor conditions of the foundations quickly proved this option impossible. In turn, the architects studied the possibility to build an extension into the backyard. Two major constraints were to be found: (1) the Municipality forbade to construct higher than the existing roof membrane, and (2) the presence of rock 4-0 ft into the ground which made the construction of a basement very costly. From those limitations, an unconventional and affordable solution was developed: compressing the spaces on numerous split-levels to yield the desired rooms, with a stunning double height dining room and a generous provision of natural light.
The first gesture was to lower the new dining room to the level of the exterior terrace and to link it with the kitchen and music room through a vast open space. Suspended atop the dining room, a translucent reading cube emerges from the master bedroom. Meanwhile, a light well ensures that direct sunlight reaches the dining room all day long. The kitchen is organized around an over-dimensioned central counter that becomes the focus of the social life in the house.
To meet the extremely tight budget, the selected building materials were deliberately left raw and untouched. The floor is covered mostly with an antic waxed maple flooring while the dining room uses fibrocement panels. The roof structure of the existing house was left exposed and painted in white to lighten up the spaces. The exterior back facade is covered with black pine planks with industrial corrugated steel sheet with galvalum finish.
Playing in a subversive manner with the numerous constraints, the architects yielded a unique project. Simple and modest, the St-Hubert residence offers nonetheless a rich spatial experience with generous and luminous spaces.