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© Katri Pyynönen


Project name : U-HOUSE Location : Montreal, QC, Canada Project end date : Autumn 2008 Architect / designer : Natalie Dionne Architecture Design team : Natalie Dionne and Martin Laneuville Structural Engineering: Alain Mousseau -Calculatec consulting engineers Inc. Photographer: Marc Cramer


Situated on the peripheries of a residential Montreal neighbourhood, near a railway line, the U-HOUSE exists in a totally urban situation. However, the U shape takes advantage of the open central space, setting up an oasis protected from the neighboring environment. The walls framing the courtyard are finely crafted of articulated wood and glass panels which can be opened and closed. Weather permitting; the courtyard gets converted into another room in the house.

Architect Natalie Dionne designed the U-House for both her family members and her office space. Along with her spouse, she designed the plans, and the construction was initiated in 2003. On the few remaining vacant lots, on the edge of the trendy Plateau Mont-Royal, Two new structures were raised at the edge of the land, both the structures were attached to a small industrial building which existed already on the site.

The architect designed the U-House such that it exploits the concept of fluidity between the interior and exterior spaces. Marine-grade plywood is used to cover the facades facing the courtyard and finished in okoumé wood veneer. The interior walls are adorned by the same veneer. In the similar manner the terrace flooring is in continuity with the house which is made from same ipé wood. The four wood window frame panels on one side of the deck are hinged together to accordion open and closed. The original building is on the other side of the deck, one of the massive windows is actually a garage door. Two gaping holes on the facade are created when both the picture windows are completely opened, which erases the lines between the indoors and the outdoors. The upstairs windows are opened and the shutters are closed in summer, which maintains privacy, ensures sufficient ventilation, shields from rain, and maintains cool in the south-facing rooms. Distinctly Open shutters allow a maximum amount of light and heat from the sun in the winters.