Joie de Vivre Residential Building / ACDF Architecture
Text description provided by the architects. In order to bring a former rail yard and industrial area of Montreal’s Outremont district back to life, ACDF was commissioned to design the 8-storey apartment complex to set a new tone for the neighborhood and contribute to a new community. residential area emerging around the new campus of the University of Montreal.
Vivre is one of the first structures to be built along Thérèse Lavoie-Roux Street, paved through the old railroad yard and train tracks to connect the neighborhood to the new campus, as well as historic Avenue of the Montreal Park. As one of the first projects to emerge in the revamped neighborhood, ACDF seized the opportunity to set the bar high in terms of delivering inspiring architecture for future builds.
“We first focused on consistency in the requalification of the industrial zone so as not to leave aside the history and the spirit of the district while finding ways to celebrate its industrial soul”, explains the ACDF President, Maxime-Alexis Frappier. “It required a very different design approach to our projects in other parts of the city. We wanted to be sure that the building would fit comfortably into its unique context.
Emerging from the old rail yard with quiet pride, Vivre was designed in the image of its neighbors. To echo the site’s industrial past, ACDF adopted the industrial footprint of the neighborhood’s historic buildings, typically designed as concrete structural grids, filled with brick and glass according to their functional needs. By adopting this approach, ACDF embarked on a contemporary reinterpretation inspired by the industrial language of the building environment. Living took the form of an exposed concrete grid but used a custom-designed three-panel precast system by ACDF. Bricks and windows filled the north and south facades of the grid, and the panel system facilitated the process of removing a series of triangular-shaped balconies from the concrete grid.
“Integrating balconies into the architectural composition of a residential building is always a big challenge and even more so in the case of this project since we wanted to create a building imbued with the industrial architectural language of neighboring buildings,” notes Frappier. The horizontal portion of each balcony attaches to one side of the structure, with deeper portions suspended by vertical attachment to the concrete panel that houses the windows. With ACDF’s use of a precast system, even the building’s dark manganese brick is cast into the concrete panel. The quality and performance of the precast system is absolutely top-notch, and the ease of assembly simplified the process of maintaining the raw facade we envisioned,” says Frappier. “It is almost disconnected and the building benefits from greater efficiency thanks to fewer interventions on the thermal bridge.
Although part of Vivre’s design includes a rooftop oasis consisting of a terrace, pool and garden, ACDF’s reputation for investing more in ground floor presentation comes to the fore, ensuring that the building ultimately interacts with the human scale of the urban fabric. Vivre embodies ACDF’s approach to pedestrian integration, where humanity is the raw material, and new standards are set for creating emotion without extravagance. The ground floor of Vivre overlooks a community garden and opens onto a landscaped plaza, where residents and pedestrians enjoy a green gateway into the revitalized neighborhood. The ACDF has placed amenities on the ground floor to inject vibrancy and connect with the surrounding community. The gym, workspace, living room, etc. from the ground floor of Vivre carry the energy of the building down to street level and set the tone for future construction.
As the city seeks to further capitalize on repurposed sites to provide residential options closer to where people work, the ACDF’s achievement of a balanced dialogue with Vivre paves the way for such efforts. With a focus on improving contributions to the public realm, the ACDF continues to lead discussions on reshaping urban development priorities in key global markets. “Our attention has been focused on ensuring that this project contributes to the requalification of the sector,” concludes Maxime-Alexis Frappier. “We relished the responsibility of contributing to the birth of a new neighborhood and creating a sense of place everywhere.”