Designed by Montreal-based firm Le Borgne Rizk Architecture, these two semi-attached residential triplexes charmingly named Notre-Dame stand out with their reinterpretation of Montreal’s historical and classic design elements.
The project is located in Montreal’s southwest district and presents an innovative reinterpretation of dominant neighbourhood themes. Amani Rizk, partner and co-founder of the firm, explains further: “The challenge from the beginning was to design a building with distinct character, yet which would blend into the fabric of the neighbourhood. That part of Notre-Dame Street is quite eclectic – a massive residential project flanks the site to the right while an odd commercial building is seen on the left.”
Built completely from scratch on a vacant lot, Le Borgne Rizk envisioned a modern interpretation of a traditional Montreal triplex, historically featuring external front staircases. With surrounding residential units mainly designed with internal staircases, the firm focused on a design that would bridge the gap between traditional elements and existing neighbourhood characteristics.
“We wanted the structure to blend into its surroundings, but without replicating everything simply for that purpose,” says Ms Rizk. “That can be challenging when beginning on a vacant lot, and you need to play with the setback, the alignment, the height, and more to make it your own.”
In doing so, the firm worked closely with the City of Montreal to ensure that its design would meet strict municipal alignment requirements. Le Borgne Rizk identified some common design elements that needed to be incorporated to mimic the surrounding topology but then reinterpreted them by combining original aspects that define the building’s unique character.
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,” concludes 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.”
With recognizable nods to classic design, unique reinterpretations, and infusions of ingenuity, Notre Dame has earned its place as a welcome addition to the neighbourhood and a testament to the creative thinking of Le Borgne Rizk.
In recognition of the firm’s innovative work, the project 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.
Photographer: Maxime Brouillet