Residence Alma: a groundbreaking but discreet transformation
Residence Alma: a groundbreaking but discreet transformation
Residence Alma: a groundbreaking but discreet transformation

Commissioned by a private client, the transformation of a commercial space on the ground floor and the two apartments on the upper floors in order to create a single-family residence resulted in the so-called Residence Alma. In approaching an early 20th-century mixed-use building, the project focuses on three archetypal principles: the loggia, the passage, and the colonnade

Atelier Barda designs the transformation of Residence Alma, a complete renovation project of a residential triplex in Montreal's Little Italy neighborhood. "The main idea was to preserve the existing facade, and to use the envelope to deviate from what is happening inside," the architects explain. "We tried to respect the past by making slight additions to delineate the old from the new, including rounded brick columns that subtly contrast with the angular architecture of the original building"

Residence Alma: a groundbreaking but discreet transformation

While respecting the building's exterior façade, Atelier Barda made only subtle changes to the existing elements in order to transfer the building from the past to the present. The architects completely gutted the interior of the existing building, undertaking a redesign from the ground up. Part of the commercial space was retained, but halved in size, and cuts were made to the side of the existing facade in order to create new openings for the entrance to the residential space, and for a new garage. At the rear of the building, two exterior balconies were enclosed by making a slight extension of the brick facade, using brick patterns that match the original construction

Residence Alma: a groundbreaking but discreet transformation

To maximize its vision, while adhering to strict building codes and regulations, Atelier Barda undertook an interior design plan that compressed previous ceiling heights, established new floor levels, and created a fourth floor in the form of a rooftop mezzanine. On the second level of the building, there is a guest suite consisting of three bedrooms, a kitchen, a dining room, a living room, and two bathrooms. The third level serves as the client's main residence, and Atelier Barda has excavated its 1,700 sq. ft. volume to create an outdoor courtyard. The 200 sq. ft. courtyard is surrounded by the vitrines of the dwelling that faces it, becoming a crystal cube that divides the living area from the master bedroom. Extending vertically, the courtyard is exposed to the elements of nature from above and features lush vegetation, seating areas and a Japanese bathtub

Residence Alma: a groundbreaking but discreet transformation

"The courtyard really articulates the space while creating a very intimate outdoor space for the client," the architects say. "It also allowed us to bring abundant light into the core of the building."
A soft, demure feel characterizes the interior of the residence, with subtle hints of luxury in the living spaces incorporated through the use of clean lines and meticulous details. The designers worked closely with suppliers to develop specific finishes, such as the residence's oiled oak floors, ensuring a delicate balance of warmth and color that resonates throughout the space

Residence Alma: a groundbreaking but discreet transformation

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