On a short and narrow street in Montreal’s Plateau Mont-Royal neighbourhood, the Berri House is a small residential extension by Thomas Balaban Architecte that makes the most of a 130 m2 centenary carriage house and a unique urban situation.
Surrounded by a rich architectural neighbourhood of corner stores, car repair shops, small industrial buildings and traditional brick duplexes and triplexes, the irregularly shaped lot comes from the subdivision of a large property spanning two streets. The subdivision results in a new lot with only a small side yard and a small exterior space at the back enclosed by other buildings. The fundamental issue of the project was how to expand the footprint of the building, preserving the character and the limited outdoor area.
Extending from the second floor, a new floating volume provides additional living space for the family while preserving the limited outdoor space and two maple trees that exist on the site. Finished with reflective galvanized panels, the floating volume bounces natural light into the garden below.
Originally constructed in 1910, the carriage house has undergone several renovations. While the exterior appearance of the house has been largely preserved and the brick façade repaired, inside layers of interventions were removed and replaced with a new interior concept featuring raw materials such as plywood, rich textures, and minimal detailing that plays off softer modern furnishings and the family’s art collection.
Inside, a compact arrangement allows for both connection and visual privacy. A new opening made through the first floor at the entrance connects three levels with an ultra-minimal and transparent stair. Upstairs, the kitchen, dining room, office, and stairs are organized around a central structural column built out to include a powder room, stationary closet, stereo equipment, and a coffee station.
Strategically placed windows and existing skylights punctuate the spaces, bringing in natural light and a connection to the exterior, ultimately providing a changing, natural counterpoint to the abstract artwork and photography on display in the house.