La SHED Architecture office, Montreal, Quebec
Located in what used to be a Plateau-Mont-Royal general store, La SHED’s office preserves the area’s vernacular architecture while adopting a resolutely contemporary appearance that reflects the company’s image.
The workshop and adjacent meeting space are completely open and the glass façade allows passers-by to observe the architects at work. Halfway between an office and a boutique, the space redefines the traditional architect’s office. The original building’s structure, located at the centre of the office, is highlighted by its neon colour scheme. On one side of the office is a large white block that contains the meeting room, kitchen and stationery. The central block on the other side of the office is divided into a materials library that harkens back to the general store’s shelving units. These shelves allow light to filter through to the meeting room that is isolated by a frosted glass wall. The wood paneling, table trestles, lighting and choice of accessories combine to provide the workshop with a casual, collegial and well thought out atmosphere.
The bathroom, located in la Shed’s basement at the foot of a black steel staircase, is surprising due to its lack of a partition. The sliding full height pocket door disappears entirely once open, thus removing any boundaries within the space. The wall-to-wall mirror at the back of the bathroom conveys an air of mystery while the sink seems to float in the middle of the space. The pitch black floor and ceiling bounded by the rubble rock foundation wall provide a stark contrast when compared to the white workshop above, which emphasizes the bathroom’s enveloping and cozy atmosphere.
The studio is dedicated to a new type of architectural relationship, where to call an architect would scarcely be stranger than hiring a accountant – a relationship where conceiving your own living space would neither be a luxury nor would it be utopic. As a company that performs the majority of its work in the residential and commercial sectors, la SHED has developed a thorough expertise in the renovation, transformation and construction of buildings of all types and all historical backgrounds. Openness, lighting and alignment are at the very core of all projects completed by the studio – reflected here in their own office space.
La SHED offers an innovative and inclusive approach for its renovation, expansion and new construction projects. This approach makes architectural services accessible for any scale of project as well as any budget. It is also for the purpose of accessibility that the firm has chosen to make its home in a storefront boutique location. The workshop, visible from the street, is configured in order to optimize teamwork, an essential ingredient in stimulating creativity. Weaker ideas are eliminated for the benefit of the more creative ones. The synergy of the la SHED team can be felt not only in project work, but also in the conviction that architecture can be done differently by developing partnerships with people who choose to invent, or reinvent, their lifestyle.