Ideas factory Yoo is now putting its stamp on a developing quartier in Montreal, arguably North America’s most European city. The London-based design firm has collaborated with a local builder on a 91-unit luxury condo project in Griffintown, a working-class part of the city that is undergoing dynamic transformation.
‘It’s an area that is born and reborn,’ says Philippe Starck, creative director of Yoo. Once filled with red-brick row houses and light industry, the district was celebrated as home to the Griffintown Horse Palace, an urban stable. The designers have paid homage to this equine culture by giving the oversize public places a grandiosity, says design head Mark Davison. The building’s main public rooms will be set back from the street to impart a generous airiness. Due for completion in spring 2016, the modern 20-storey tower will be surrounded by an oversized colonnade of concrete with steel beams, flanked by huge shutters and massive doors. ‘The idea of big, rough shutters came from the stable and the horse culture up the road,’ he says.
These rooms will contrast raw concrete cast in situ with the delicate Tiffany-like glass to be used in the lobby, beautifully finished fixtures against raw wood walls, and a pathway into the building of backlit checkerboard marble. The elevator core, inside a frame of cast concrete, is to be lined in coloured mirror. ‘It’s like cutting into stone and finding a diamond inside,’ says Davison. The living spaces are offered with themes – culture, minimal and nature – but serve as a simple backdrop for homeowners’ own creativity.