© Maxime Desbiens
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Atelier Barda completed the Queen Mary Residence, a rear extension project of a historic home in Montreal’s Hampstead district. The project involved the renovation of a Tudor-style home, built in 1927, to render it more suitable to the needs of a large family.
Within the context of a very restrictive regulatory framework designed to preserve the district’s historic qualities, Atelier Barda embraced the challenge of striking a delicate balance between historicism and purposeful use. The common spaces of the existing home’s interior, while once well-suited to its era and its external surroundings, were small and overly-partitioned, thus restricting open movement and limiting penetration of natural light. Additionally, the existing configuration fell short of accommodating the number of bedrooms required by the family.
“The neighborhood is characterized by homes that were built in a variety of traditional architectural styles,” explain the architects. “It is located in a residential area that is devoid of industrial and commercial installations, and removed from the high-density of Montreal’s downtown core.”
Transitioning from the past
Atelier Barda proposed a concept to preserve the historic character of the home, yet with a new transition from historic elements to a more intimate relationship between the home and its inhabitants. The original design of homes in the neighbourhood focused on the front façades of the built environment, with very little emphasis placed on the developmental potential of the rear areas of the properties. In keeping with that intention, Atelier Barda respected and preserved the design principles of the front façade, making only minor changes including window replacements and refurbished columns.
“The backyards of these homes have historically played a secondary role to their front yards and façades,” note the architects. “In a sense, our approach to this project is a critique of that rhetoric.”
Working behind the scenes
Atelier Barda’s approach relied heavily on intricate architectural techniques to create a mirror-like addition facing the rear. Attached to the rear of the home, the addition was angularly cut on the east side in order to preserve the architectural integrity of the front façade, and to ensure the visual continuance of its archetypal sloped roof. The north side of the new structure was similarly sloped to reduce shadows and to maximize sunlight in the rear yard.
By working behind the sightlines of the front façade, where the city’s regulatory framework is more permissive, Atelier Barda was granted greater freedom in their choice of materials. The firm opted for the nobility and functionality of custom-cut copper panelling for the rear extension’s roof, as opposed to the traditional asphalt shingles of the existing structure. Below the copper roofing, the design team applied burnt wood cladding, providing a natural protective layer against the elements.