St Hubert Residence Is A Subversive Renovation

Some economists would tell you that zoning bylaws and building restrictions are killing the economy by making it so hard for anyone to build. On the other hand, zoning bylaws can sometimes drive creativity and innovation as architects and designers try to figure out how to subvert them.

Montreal architects Nature Humaine, a firm founded by Stéphane Rasselet and Marc-André Plasse, do exactly that with the St. Hubert Residence, this year's Marcel Parizeau Award Winner.

The owners wanted to expand the 800 square foot house, but they couldn't go up because the foundations weren't strong enough to take a second floor. They couldn't go back because of zoning bylaw restrictions. They couldn't go down because of bedrock.

From those limitations, an unconventional and affordable solution was developed: compressing the spaces on numerous split-levels to yield the desired rooms, with a stunning double height dining room and a generous provision of natural light.

They dropped the dining room floor down to patio level, creating a double height space that let them hang a "reading "cube" next to the master bedroom.

To meet the extremely tight budget, the selected building materials were deliberately left raw and untouched. The floor is covered mostly with an antic waxed maple flooring while the dining room uses fibrocement panels. The roof structure of the existing house was left exposed and painted in white to lighten up the spaces. The exterior back facade is covered with black pine planks with industrial corrugated steel sheet with galvalum finish.

Sometimes, restrictions, bylaws and problems bring out the best in a design. More at Nature Humaine

St Hubert Residence Is A Subversive Renovation
A prize-winning demonstration of how to squeeze more stuff into a small area

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