written by:
photos by:
February 10, 2015
Architect Thomas Balaban creates a secret outdoor oasis within a Montreal house.
modern house in montreal with metal facade

Located in Montreal, Tuan Vu and Jean François's sleek modern home is designed to balance the need for privacy while maximizing natural daylight. The exterior is clad in a single material to maintain a unified aesthetic. "We wanted to keep the house light and we wanted to emphasize its overall form instead of its different elements so we found a metal cladding that could work on both the roof and walls," says Thomas Balaban, the architect who designed the structure. "It was very important for us that it be the same material for both. Where we did change material around the entry and the windows, we matched the color of the metal cladding so as not to disturb the reading of the uniform shape."

Photo by 
1 / 9
modern house in montreal with metal facade and permeable pavers

The house is in a traditional area with strict building restrictions. "With adjacent houses close to the property line on the east and west sides, the backyard to the north, and narrow side of the lot facing south, the sunny part of the lot was at its center so that is where we put the outdoor spaces," Balaban says. In lieu of a lawn, permeable pavers add a practical and green element to the landscaping.

Photo by 
2 / 9
courtyard spaces inside a modern montreal house

Since the sunniest part of the lot is at its center, Balaban designed the residence around a courtyard. "The outdoor space became the heart of the house," Balaban says. "You have the usual array of mechanical 'bells and whistles'—low-consumption fixtures, heat exchanger on the ventilation, radiant concrete floors, etc.— but the courtyard is the main green feature. It brings natural light to the basement and the center of the structure. It also creates a microclimate, protected from the wind. In combination with the stacked stair, it helps provide passive natural ventilation using a chimney effect through the house. The stepped courtyard also gives every space in the house direct access to a patio."

Photo by 
3 / 9
minimalist kitchen with concrete floors and walnut cabinetry

The kitchen looks out onto the courtyard. Inside the house, the floors are heated polished concrete. "For the interior, we kept everything as uniform and unarticulated as possible in the living spaces and bedrooms: pale concrete floors to match the walls as close as possible, no baseboards, etc., allowing the focus to be on the objects the house would contain: Tuan’s paintings and photos, the furniture and millwork that they chose," Balaban says.

Photo by 
4 / 9
Modern kitchen with wood panelong by Cesar

The kitchen is from the Italian company Cesar. "It's fabulous—pure lines, sophisticated, and very convenient," Vu says.

Photo by 
5 / 9
modern bathrooms with houndstooth wallpaper and white fixtures

"The bathrooms were the only other 'events' we wanted in the structure of the house," Balaban says. "Their dark, more intimate materials and graphic touches balance the visual clutter of sinks, toilets, faucets, etc. and stand in contrast to the living spaces. The white profiles of the tub and sinks also stand out nicely against the dark background. Tuan and Jean-François selected the graphic wallpapers for each bathroom once the house took shape and they also chose the faucets."

Photo by 
6 / 9
modern black staircase and living room with gray sofa

Balaban designed the staircase to read like a piece of furniture. It features handsome wood steps and a metal railing. Balaban flipped the traditional hierarchy of the house and placed bedrooms on the ground floor and living spaces on the second story. "We ran through a lot of design iterations during the concept phase—some of them were a bit off the wall—before finally settling on the form and the concept of inversing the spaces and digging out the courtyard from the center of the house," Balaban says. "We all went through a few months of weekly meetings and iterations to fine tune the design and the spaces, choose the materials and settle on the details. We tried just about every combination and permutation of spatial organization and stair configuration possible. The shape of the courtyard also evolved to respond to the spaces moving around. Time was an important and indispensable ingredient in the process!"

 

 

"The living space is located on the upper floor and it's quite pleasant," Vu says. "The space is flooded with natural light all year long and has a view of mature trees in the neighborhood—it's stunning. We almost feel like we're in the countryside!"

Photo by 
7 / 9
modern kitchen and deck in a montreal house

"We wanted to build an intimate space which also has a more modern look than the traditional houses in the neighborhood," Vu says.

Photo by 
8 / 9
modern house in montreal with concrete floors

Every room in the house looks onto an outdoor space. Click here to see more modern homes that use courtyards as a design element.

Photo by 
9 / 9
modern house in montreal with metal facade

Located in Montreal, Tuan Vu and Jean François's sleek modern home is designed to balance the need for privacy while maximizing natural daylight. The exterior is clad in a single material to maintain a unified aesthetic. "We wanted to keep the house light and we wanted to emphasize its overall form instead of its different elements so we found a metal cladding that could work on both the roof and walls," says Thomas Balaban, the architect who designed the structure. "It was very important for us that it be the same material for both. Where we did change material around the entry and the windows, we matched the color of the metal cladding so as not to disturb the reading of the uniform shape."

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

45 dva 2270 persp1 cmyk 0
The prospect of retirement doesn’t just signal the end of a career; it offers the chance to recalibrate and re-prioritize in life.
July 25, 2016
18
You don’t have to choose between sustainable energy and curb appeal.
July 19, 2016
jakemagnus queensland 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
July 06, 2016
content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
angular
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016