Atelier Barda is a Canadian architectural firm that likes to push the creative boundaries of home design. In April 2017, the firm took on the unusual challenge of transforming a commercial building in the busy Le Plateau-Mont-Royal neighborhood in Montreal into a cozy home for a family. The building, which was formerly two apartments above a grocery store, is now a 2,500-square-foot home and rental space apartment.
When collaborating with the owners on a redesign, the firm realized that, in order to build what was needed, loss of privacy was going to be an issue. Rather than hiding the new residential space, the firm embraced it, creating it as part of the public experience but making it less obvious to avoid too much attention. With the downstairs on view, the designers decided to create a somewhat mysterious quality for passersby, who see a transitional space framed by storefront windows.
Many of the challenges of building in an existing space also presented moments of advantage. The building is situated between a side yard, which was used for hauling merchandise into the store, and a long garage with a shed. A partial floor behind the garage became a new living room space with a deck overlooking the cityscape.