Completed in 1964, this residence located in the heart of one of Montreal’s upper class borrows, sitting right at the top of the Mount-Royal, was originally designed by architect Pierre Cantin and was completely renovated to give it new elegance.
Embellished with woodwork panels, the rich hues of the ground floor contrast with the light of the second floor and its atrium mezzanine. The property was completely stripped down to make room for lighter, larger and brighter spaces.
Redesigned for a young family, this vast residence of nearly 10,000 sq. ft. now offers openly connected rooms and optimized spatial fluidity. The atrium, a true centerpiece, reveals a double staircase leading to the mezzanine, which overlooks a bar area with a fireplace adjoining the living room. The kitchen and dining room are fully glazed and lead to a large landscaped courtyard with a swimming pool.
Adjacent to the large linear kitchen, an extension of the cabinetry conceals storage and access to the garage in the basement. A comfortable dinette area and its access to a private terrace face the street above the garage.
Upstairs, the mezzanine lounge room hosts a fireplace, a hidden television, and a huge double-story glass wall that offers a view of Montreal. A large playroom, three children’s bedrooms, and two bathrooms complete this level.
The lower floor has, among other things, two guest bedrooms, a workout area, a workshop, and a double garage.
A majestic Atrium
Very special attention was given to the Grand Hall. From the imposing roof projections outside of the double-story vestibule, the entrance sequence of this residence is an architectural journey in itself. As you enter the atrium, art pieces and large walnut woodwork paneling peacefully bring a sense of human scale to the rather intimidating space. The upper walls of this large double-height volume extend into white surfaces and accentuate the impression of space. A very light yet imposing contemporary chandelier slowly descends from the ceiling, the visible structure of which evokes a form of framework hangs in the center of the space.
Formerly loaded with heavy steel handrails, the double staircases strike with minimalistic glass railings that contribute to the lightness of the place.
Specific attention to detail was necessary in the positioning of the numerous wood panels that frame the stairs in order to give a gallery aspect to space. From the split-level landing of the stairs, a large solid walnut door-wall conceals the master apartments which includes a bedroom, a walk-in closet, and a fully-glazed master bathroom overlooking the courtyard.
A true avant-garde design in the 1960s, the residence had a state-of-the-art central ventilation system and even had a radiant exterior entrance staircase. The structure also presented its share of complexity with inverted beams and steel entanglements. The vast double-height atrium also supports a complex triangulated-shaped roof made entirely of mill floors.
At the time the architect had done an extraordinary job of integrating all the mechanical components in a very subtle way. By opening up widely to create free plans and larger living spaces, hiding this vast ventilation system adapted to the new standards was a colossal task. Structural contortions also had to be made to modify the mezzanine and open up the living areas.
Preserving the spirit of the house
With its noble materials, its wooden slatted partitions, its latticed ceilings, and its large wood paneling, the contemporary style of the residence evoke the style of some of the great international hotels.
The design was carried out in collaboration with the Department of Heritage and the City of Montreal to preserve and beautify, both inside and out, this listed residence known to Montrealers.
This major and very atypical renovation brought together around twenty professional consultants, engineers, and construction specialists under the direction of MU Architecture, which redesigned all of the 26 rooms of this iconic Montreal residence.
Capitalizing on their North American and European experience with a variety of world-renowned architectural firms, MU Architecture’s founders acquired a considerable amount of international experience while working with multidisciplinary teams and practices in Montreal, Vienna, Barcelona, Dubai and have developed a wide range of expertise. Actively involved in each project, they are able to perform in respect with the European and American architectural rules and standards.
Architecture always was and always will be a mirror for society. Every architectural project which contributes to the wider culture of architecture is a reflection of contemporary technology and therefore carries a greater responsibility towards its public and the environment. We understand the correlation between the architectural synergy of iconic buildings and the balance of a thriving eco-system and aim at a complete congruity. Using the latest advances in computing (real lighting renders and augmented reality) and building technology we want to reposition the role of man in the natural environment. We take our cues from technology, nature, and mankind to provide an enhanced reality and bring new intensity to the artificial environment. Our projects unify the concepts of structure, space, and architectural expression to create a unique and limitless experience.
About MU Architecture
Founded in Montreal in 2010 by Charles Côté and Jean-Sébastien Herr, MU Architecture specializes in architecture and contemporary design for residential, institutional, commercial, and industrial projects. Taking advantage of their experience in several world-renowned architectural firms, the founders of MU Architecture have acquired a wealth of international experience in Montreal, Vienna, Barcelona, and Dubai. Their projects comply with North American or European standards and regulations.
In addition to ecological values, MU Architecture promotes the correlation between iconic architecture and the balance of an ecosystem. Each project contributes to the overall architectural culture and becomes a reflection of contemporary technologies, bearing great responsibility towards the public and the environment. The architects are dedicated to challenging the common perception of architecture too often seen as the production of square meters. MU Architecture’s projects unify the concepts of structure, space, and architectural expression in order to create a unique and infinite experience.
Photo credit: Stéphane Groleau