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Case studies

Light Box

Boîte à lumière, by _naturehumaine

Located in the district of Rosemont-Petite-Patrie, near Père Marquette Park, the project consists in the renovation and expansion of a “shoebox”. The typical “shoebox” was erected by the working class in the 1940s and was originally a modest and economical 1-story single-family house.

In a desire for heritage conservation, the district classified the “shoeboxes” into different categories of interest. In this case, it was mandatory to preserve the existing façade, but we were allowed to add a second story. To respect the original volume of the shoebox and preserve its heritage values, it was intuitive to propose a set-back second-floor addition. This pronounced recess provides an intimate green terrace on the street side, facing south.

The project was designed for a couple passionate about architecture and art, whose judicious integration of several paintings was an integral part of the architect’s mandate. Above all, the client’s wish was to create a unique living environment, stimulating and flooded with natural light. Another of the client’s requests was to create an oasis of peace within the urban activity of this animated neighborhood.

The way light penetrates the heart of the living spaces is a reference to the multiple rounded skylights in architect Josep Lluís Sert’s Miro Museum in Barcelona. A luminous fracture in the roof, capped by a continuous skylight, lets in strong light from the south, which is softly diffused over a curved, white-plastered surface. Thus, like a “light box” used in photography, the all-white project is contained within a black envelope.

The house is formally organized around a central courtyard delimited on the street side by the shoebox topped by a new floor and on the alley side by a 2-storey addition connected to the front of the house via a glass passageway. In addition, a small pool basin covered by a retractable platform enlivens this exterior living space.

On the ground floor, within the existing shoebox, we find the living spaces. Then, on the upper floor, we find the night spaces on one side of the luminous breach and the workspaces on the other. The new addition on the alley side accommodates a workshop, a sauna, and a guest room upstairs, all surmounted by a vegetable rooftop garden accessible via a terrace adjoining the main bedroom.

Circulation between floors is ensured by a central staircase inserted into a transverse gap in the house. The steps and stringers are formed from a continuous fold of steel onto which thin white bars are welded. Topped by the linear skylight, the staircase becomes the main feature of the house; sculptural and light, it allows a transparent reading of the living spaces with a smooth diffusion of light, from the skylight to the first floor of the house.

Built-in white oak furniture, herringbone oak floors, white lacquered kitchen cabinetry, and round ceramic tiles for the main bathroom are all discreet materials that lend the house a peaceful and warm atmosphere. To ensure harmony, a contrast of black and white materials is used, particularly in the ceramics, recalling the duality suggested by the “light box”.

All exterior facades are clad in black painted steel to emphasize the warm, nuanced brickwork of the existing shoebox. In the inner courtyard, black-painted steel blades are applied to the surface of the window mullions to create a play of depth and shading according to the sun path, while ensuring certain privacy from adjacent neighbors.

Tips and techniques

How to properly store your appliance?

It’s the end of the fire season in the home. Are there any best practices when it’s time to call it a day?

Yes, according to our Stûv expert, Corey.

To properly store your appliance, Corey suggests: 

Remove all ashes from the appliance with a vacuum cleaner;
Clean the glass;
Visually inspect interior parts;
Have your chimney swept (it’s a good reminder, it is recommended to do this at least once a year).

View how to clean the glass of a wood burning appliance  : VIEW

Case studies

Residence des Cimes

Résidence des Cimes – A permanent connection with nature


The Cimes Residence embodies much more than just a mountain chalet; it is a bespoke second home designed for a family of four, where every detail reflects the needs, desires, and passions of its inhabitants, while seamlessly integrating into its natural environment.

From the initial sketches, the clients’ desire was clear: to maintain constant contact with the surrounding natural beauty. Thus, abundant fenestration framing the majestic trees was integrated, offering panoramic views from every corner of the building. Direct access to the outdoors from each room reinforces this immersion in nature. The central corridor, serving each volume of the chalet, guides residents through the different spaces, offering changing perspectives through reflective windows. The living room, the centerpiece of this journey, is adorned with a glass wall across its entire southern facade, maximizing winter brightness while preserving summer coolness with its covered terrace.

An assertive spatial organization
The chalet unfolds into three distinct volumes, each dedicated to specific functions and uses. The first volume houses the service areas: the entrance, garage, and cloakroom. Nestled between the first and second volumes is the mudroom. The second volume comprises the private spaces, including the children’s and parents’ bedrooms and bathrooms. Meanwhile, the third volume encompasses the communal areas, such as the kitchen, dining room, and living room. This clear and functional division structures the space while offering fluid circulation.

A functional space suitable for outdoor recreation
As outdoor life lies at the heart of the family’s activities, our architects meticulously articulated the spaces to accommodate equipment related to winter sports and motorized activities. A spacious mudroom-style area, acting as a true buffer between the interior and exterior, has thus been integrated to store this equipment. Similarly, a functional cloakroom at the entrance meets the practical needs of daily life.

Passion for wine
The owner’s passion for wine resonated in the design of a wine cellar integrated at the very heart of the residence through fixed furniture in the corridor. Like a showcase, this glass cellar highlights each bottle, adding a touch of elegance to the space.

Modularity and space optimization
Anticipating a potential transformation into a primary residence, the design was conceived in a modular manner. Each space was thoughtfully utilized to its maximum potential, and ingenious storage solutions were integrated throughout the chalet, especially in the long corridor connecting the three volumes.

Environmental footprint has always been at the core of our concerns. The choice of sustainable materials, such as Canadian red cedar for the exterior envelope and white poplar for the interior cladding, reflects our commitment to environmentally respectful architecture.

Constraints and Environmental Choices
The design of the Cimes Residence had to juggle various constraints, such as the proximity to a wetland area and strict regulatory standards. Despite these challenges, the environmental footprint has always been at the core of our concerns. The choice of sustainable materials, such as Canadian red cedar for the exterior envelope and white poplar for the interior cladding, reflects our commitment to environmentally respectful architecture. The complex topography of the site and the need to preserve wooded areas posed unique challenges during the design of this chalet. The team had to ensure smooth circulation through the three distinct volumes while considering the specific constraints of this extraordinary construction type.

Model: Stûv 16-58 H

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