Atelier Barda, an architectural firm renowned for its constructive thinking in approaching every design, introduces Residence Alma, a full renovation project of a residential triplex in Montreal’s Little Italy district. The program focused on redeveloping an existing commercial ground floor space, as well as consolidating two upper floor apartments in order to design a single-family residence. Beautifully designed and executed, the result is quiet yet impactful.
In approaching the mixed-use, early 20th century building, Atelier Barda focused on three archetype design principles: the loggia, the passageway, and the colonnade. The main idea was to preserve the existing façade and to use the envelope to deflect from what is happening inside while respecting the past making slight additions to delineate old from new, including rounded brick columns that subtly contrast with the angular architecture of the original building.
In respecting the external façade of the building, Atelier Barda made only subtle changes to existing elements in order to transition the building from the past to the present. In contrast, the interior of the existing building was completely gutted and redesigned from scratch. A portion of the commercial space was preserved, yet halved in size, and cuts were made to the side of the existing façade in order to create new openings for entry to the residential space, and for a new garage. The original entrance to the upper-level apartments was then relocated from the main commercial boulevard to the residential side street, providing the client with more discreet access to the residence. At the rear of the building, two external balconies were enclosed by making a slight extension of the brick façade, using brick patterns that match the original construction.
To maximize its vision, while adhering to strict building codes and regulations, Atelier Barda embarked on an interior design plan that compressed previous ceiling heights, established new floor plates, and created a fourth level in the form of a rooftop mezzanine. On the second level of the building, the firm created a visitor’s suite comprised of three bedrooms, a kitchen, a dining room, a living room, and two bathrooms. The third level, which serves as the principal living quarters of the client, was hollowed out to create an open-air courtyard that is enclosed in glass internally and divides the living room area from the master bedroom. Extending vertically, the stunning courtyard is exposed to nature’s elements from above and features lush vegetation, seating areas, and a Japanese soaking tub. The courtyard really articulates the space, while creating a very private outdoor area for the client. It also allowed us to bring abundant light into the core of the building.