© T B A + Adrien Williams
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Located in the fast-developing Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie borough of Montréal, deNormanville is part of the first wave of post-moratorium additions exploring new avenues for the transformation of the city’s disappearing one-story typology, commonly referred to as “shoeboxes”.
By taking the preservation of the original structure and the site’s mature trees as its primary point of departure, the project responds in a straightforward but ultimately radical way to the principal challenges of designing an addition to the small, vernacular structure set at the rear of the lot. Delicately weaving across the site’s landscape, it reaches out to restore the continuity of neighbouring façades. While the old structure now finds itself preserved at the heart of the new home, the project reestablishes the presence of the one story typology in the heterogenous family neighborhood dominated by Montreal’s renowned “missing middle” plex housing. It is a gesture that is modest, minimal, and memorable in its urban context.
Having owned the property for several years, the clients wanted to expand their tiny back lot home to accommodate the growing family. This meant additional bedrooms, larger living spaces, and spatial separation between the private rooms and socially focused areas. From the onset both client and architect shared the desire to conserve the single story and its direct connection the surrounding outdoor space. Realizing their desired home with limited means was a 3-year long process, exploring a variety of options that could reconcile needs, budget, and zoning. In the end, the front yard extension that layered indoor and outdoor space remained the most feasible and exciting prospect.
The layered volume developed step-by-step. The first move brought the extension forward to align with the frontage of its immediate neighbours; its façade carved out to provide a protective space around a Siberian elm that interrupts the continuity of the façades’ alignment. This satellite volume is then connected back to the original house via a corridor that runs along the east firewall of the property. It incorporates kitchen, toilet, storage and laundry spaces, and mechanically connects old and new. The exterior wall of the corridor is blended into the street front volume with a curve that reflects the tree well on the front façade, delineating the central outdoor courtyard that showcases the original house. The result is a sinuous boundary between interior, architecture, landscape, and urban context.