Le Borgne Rizk Architecture introduces Notre-Dame, two semi-attached residential triplexes located in Montreal’s south-west district. The project is a modern interpretation of a traditional Montreal triplex, historically featuring external front staircases.

Photo credit: Maxime Brouillet

With surrounding residential units mainly designed with internal staircases, the firm focused on a design that would bridge the gap between classic elements and existing neighbourhood characteristics.

“The challenge from the beginning was to design a building with distinct character, yet which would blend into the fabric of the neighbourhood,” says Amani Rizk, partner and co-founder of the firm. “That part of Notre-Dame Street is quite eclectic, and the site is flanked by a massive residential project to the right, and an odd commercial building to the left.”

Photo credit: Maxime Brouillet

External bent metal staircases lead from the ground level to the second level as an aesthetic tribute to triplex designs of yesteryear. Although externally exposed, the staircases are concealed for privacy through the strategic placement of tall trees.

The upper-level staircases are contained within a protruding central volume that connects the two triplexes. Constructed in a brick pattern, the central volume draws inspiration from the concept of a mashrabiya, an architectural element characteristic of traditional Islamic design.

In addition to housing the upper staircases, landings, and entrances, the volume’s brick latticework facilitates the intake of natural light, while offering residents external views without compromising privacy.

The outward extension of the central volume affords additional interior space, allowing for oversized landings and entranceways. The third level is even more expansive and was designed to allow for seating in a small reading nook with external views.

Photo credit: Maxime Brouillet

Internally, the living spaces are designed as high-end rental units, with very functional, but simple layouts. The front areas of the ground floor and second floor apartments feature single bedrooms and a small office space, with a focus on the backend of the units in the form of large living/dining/kitchen areas. The third-floor units feature double-height ceilings and integrated staircases leading up to a spacious rooftop mezzanine, set back from the street for added privacy, and to respect a city bylaw.

“Wherever there are setbacks from the main façade, including the walls surrounding the landings, they have been finished in the Japanese shou sugi ban style,” says Ms. Rizk. “It’s a burnt wood treatment that adds a degree of warmth to the hollow facades, as well as to the roof terrace.”

Notre-Dame has received 3 Grands Prix du Design in the categories of Building Façade, Residential Building/Low-Rise Rental or Condominium Building, and Special Award/Wood featured in architecture.

Technical sheet
Official Project Name – Notre-Dame
Location – Notre-Dame Street East, Montreal
Client – Cocoon Construction
Architects/Designers – Le Borgne Rizk Architecture
Engineer – L2C
General Contractor – Cocoon Construction
Area – 2 triplexes on 3 floors with lean-to, no basement – +_1000sq.ft./floor + lean-to
Materials – Bricks – Bowerstone Shale Company / Shou Sugi Ban Burnt Wood – Yakisugi (burnt cedar) / Metal panels (back)
Project completion date – Winter 2019
Photographer – Maxime Brouillet

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