In­ner Strength

A BRICK FA­CADE IN MON­TREAL LOOKS SE­VERE BUT IT OPENS TO A GEM-LIKE COURT­YARD

Azure - - SPOTLIGHT - WORDS _Austin Macdon­ald PHO­TOGRAPHS _A­drien Wil­liams

In Jan­uary, La Géode in Mon­treal earned Canada’s first LEED v4 Plat­inum rat­ing for mul­tires­i­den­tial con­struc­tion. With the de­vel­op­ers ex­pect­ing Sil­ver, the project squeaked into the high­est level of green build­ing cer­ti­fi­ca­tion by ac­ing sev­eral sub­cat­e­gories and scor­ing a to­tal of 80.5 points. Jean-françois St-onge, co-founder of AD­HOC ar­chi­tectes, ex­plains that the five-unit project – of two vol­umes book­end­ing a cen­tral court­yard – is of Moor­ish in­spi­ra­tion and a new ty­pol­ogy in the Plateau, an area char­ac­ter­ized by brick row­houses with deep, gloomy floor plates and small back­yards. “We wanted to max­i­mize the land’s liv­able area with two build­ings,” St-onge says about La Géode’s quintessen­tially postage-stamp-size lot, just eight me­tres wide by 24 me­tres deep. “The client was a real es­tate de­vel­oper and loved that we op­ti­mized the site by al­most dou­bling the square footage.” With La Géode’s fore­bod­ing dark-brown brick fa­cade street-side and sparkling tri­an­gu­lar-metal-tile cladding sys­tem (from lo­cal man­u­fac­turer Tuiles 3R) in­side, the ar­chi­tect aimed to re­pro­duce the dual iden­ti­ties of the court­yard homes he saw while trav­el­ling in Spain and Morocco: streets lined with high, im­pos­ing and nearly win­dow­less walls that of­ten con­cealed lush oases of flora, fauna and wa­ter fea­tures. The bor­ough’s her­itage wonks re­quired that AD­HOC de­sign the pub­lic-fac­ing fa­cade in brick. The client spec­i­fied not-brick for the more pri­vate court­yard fa­cade. “Th­ese two con­straints were an op­por­tu­nity to give the two treat­ments a nar­ra­tive,” he says. “We tried to am­plify their con­trast as much as pos­si­ble by cre­at­ing dis­tinct ex­te­rior and in­te­rior worlds.” On the out­side, La Géode’s fa­cade fea­tures open­work ma­sonry, an al­lu­sion to its name­sake’s min­eral crust. Also, St-onge says, “I wanted to re­vive this typ­i­cal dec­o­ra­tive tra­di­tion that em­pha­sizes the hand­crafted na­ture of brick.” In the court­yard, the zeal of the zel­lij seems Gaudíesque. St-onge re­veals that a light well in Barcelona’s Casa Batlló in­spired him to at­tempt a gra­di­ent in grey tri­an­gles. He feels mixed about the al­ter­nate end­ing – the mid­dle shade was on back or­der. As is, the charis­matic, hexag­o­nal-lat­tice mo­saic is still oth­er­worldly: hive-like and in­ter­ga­lac­tic. ad­hoc-ar­chi­tectes.com

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