Black Box II achieves a subtle balance between the old and new, preserving authentic, iconic details while integrating a bold new design. Architect Natalie Donne spearheaded the dramatic renovation of the semi-detached brick townhouse located in the Notre Dame de Grace neighborhood of Montreal, Quebec. The original structure, typical of the area, has been updated with two black parallelipeds arranged in a quincunx. Juxtaposed with the rich texture and color of the red clay bricks, the subtly iridescent black metal addition enhances the original features while adding much-needed living space.

Originally conceived as a jewel box that would evoke precious objects and fine woodworking, Natalie Donne envisioned, “a box covered with smooth and black material on the outside and blonde wood on the inside.” Large sheets of lustrous black fibrocement were assembled using fine rivets to form two connecting prisms, complete with large opening glass walls. A circular motif perforates the second floor loggia, imbuing a sense of delicacy and light. Blonde wood, light walls, and a bright porcelain kitchen floor illuminate the interior.

In renovating the original, non-descript, prototypical structure, Donne opened up the living spaces using three-panel NanaWall folding glass walls set into the addition. When opened, the walls seamlessly connect the outdoor and indoor spaces, creating both visual and physical expansiveness. When closed, the large panels with narrow stiles facilitate the unobstructed views that bath the blonde wood and porcelain surfaces in natural light.

Interior design elements complement the exterior landscaping. A dividing fence made of Western cedar wood lattice echoes the original oak wood flooring in the dining room as well as the wood island in the kitchen. A slate terrace flows into the concrete-like porcelain floor tiles in the kitchen. Black furniture echoes the black metal architectural elements.

The project was a collaboration in the vein of constructive art: the architect, builders, and the owners were all actively involved in the pursuit of aesthetic and technical excellence. The addition, though relatively small in size, has made a huge impact, increasing natural light, usable living space, and adding considerable visual distinction.

TECHNICAL SHEET:

Project Name: BLACK BOX II
Location: Borough Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grace, Montreal, QC, Canada

Project area: 2,130 sq. Ft. / ​​198 m2

Extension: 180 ft2 / 17 m2

End of the project: Autumn 2017

Architect / Designer: Natalie Dionne Architecture
Project Leader: Natalie Dionne

Design Team: Natalie Dionne, Martin Laneuville, Ariane Côté-Belisle, Corinne Deleers.

Collaborators
General Contractor: Pierre Aubin

Structural Engineer: Aldrin Salpunariu

Cabinetmaker: Pixel & Saw

Photographer: Raphaël Thibodeau

Products
Fibrocement: Swisspearl from Promostone

Porcelain, Ceramic and Slate: Ramacieri, Ceragres and Ardobec

Plumbing Accessories: Montréal-les-Bains

Lighting: Systemalux

Black Bell Lamp, Chairs, Benches and Accessories: Never Enough

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Modern home with Exterior, House Building Type, Brick Siding Material, Flat RoofLine, Metal Roof Material, and Metal Siding Material. Originally conceived as a jewel box that would evoke precious objects and fine woodworking, Architect Natalie Donne envisioned, “a box covered with smooth and black material on the outside and blonde wood on the inside.” Large sheets of lustrous black fibrocement were assembled using fine rivets to form two connecting prisms, complete with large opening glass walls. Photo  of Black Box IIView Photos

Originally conceived as a jewel box that would evoke precious objects and fine woodworking, Architect Natalie Donne envisioned, “a box covered with smooth and black material on the outside and blonde wood on the inside.” Large sheets of lustrous black fibrocement were assembled using fine rivets to form two connecting prisms, complete with large opening glass walls.

Modern home with Exterior, Metal Siding Material, House Building Type, and Flat RoofLine. Before the renovation. Photo 14 of Black Box IIView Photos

Before the renovation.

Credits

Posted By
Architect
  • Natalie Donne Architecture
Interior Design
  • Natalie Donne Architecture
  • Pixel & Saw
Landscape Design
  • Natalie Donne Architecture
Builder
  • Pierre Aubin
  • Aldrin Salpunariu
Photographer
  • Raphaël Thibodeau

Overview

Bedrooms
  • 2
  • Full Baths
  • 2
  • Partial Baths
  • 1
  • Structure
  • House (Single Residence)
  • Style
  • Modern
  • Year
  • 2017
  • Square Feet
  • 2130
  • Press