An Efficient Live-Work Space in Montreal

A husband-wife architectural duo transform a former tire shop into a versatile home-office.
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Mark Fekete and Viviana de Loera met in architecture school at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo and later worked for architects in Los Angeles and San Francisco before they decided to establish their own firm in Montreal, Fekete’s hometown. (De Loera is from Zacatecas, Mexico.)

Mark Fekete and Viviana de Loera of MARK+VIVI transformed a former tire shop in the Verdun borough of Montreal into a welcoming home-office, exposing beams on the ground floor and making liberal use of locally sourced Canadian plywood.

It wasn’t long before they tackled their first project: renovating an 800-square-foot former tire shop in the transitioning Montreal borough of Verdun into a versatile live/work studio for themselves and their nascent firm, MARK+VIVI.

The facade was outfitted with a commercial-grade storefront window.

"We wanted to create a home that served as a catalyst for the design community while providing opportunities for local artists who would otherwise not have a chance to exhibit their work," Fekete and de Loera said in a statement.

By acting as both the designer and general contractor, MARK+VIVI was able to complete the renovation for just $150 per square foot.

They opened up the lower level of the building, which dates to 1920, exposing structural supports and creating an open layout with a tiled alcove kitchen. Yellow accent walls add splashes of bold color. A bathroom and bedroom are located upstairs.

The architects carved these bookshelves into the drywall above the kitchen.

Sustainability was a guiding principle. The floors and custom cabinets were built with locally sourced Canadian plywood. All of the exposed surfaces were finished with low-VOC treatments. Double-glazed, low-emissivity windows and doors shield the space from the unforgiving Montreal winters.

The bathroom is on the second level.

But the structure’s best sustainable features, the architects say, have nothing to do with materials and everything to do with how they live in the space. "Coming from California," they said, "we realized the incredible waste of time and natural resources involved in daily commuting, not to mention the pollution. Living in Montreal, our goal is to eliminate our dependency on the car and to turn to public transportation. Now we work from home and do our part in eliminating vehicular pollution. The time we save not sitting in traffic is better spent becoming better acquainted with our neighborhoods, supporting local businesses, and living an overall healthier lifestyle."

By living "above the store" in the most literal sense, Fekete and de Loera hope to set an example for sustainable, neighborhood-oriented living.

Fekete and de Loera at work in their new space.


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