Factory-turned-loft scheme in Montreal is first step in creative regeneration project
Designed by Humà Design, La Fabrique 125 creates a bridge between an industrial past and residential future. An area of Montreal formerly used as a base for textile and clothing manufacturing has been transformed into a neighbourhood for living and enjoying creative pursuits, with La Fabrique 125 offering 192 residential lofts in a building of remarkable industrial heritage.
"We reinterpreted the spirit of the place to convey the new vocation of Quartier Chabanel, defined as the hub of fashion and design," commented Stephanie Cardinal, president of Humà Design. "The project was conceived as a beacon of creativity, light, and space, with customisable open areas, exceptionally wide windows (17-23ft long) and incredibly high ceilings, and signage with typography that evokes the building's industrial history as much as it states its new identity."
The designers preserved the original spirit of the building, from the concrete structure to the rhythm of the façade's frame and the exterior cladding materials glazed white bricks and black bricks. La Fabrique consists of 7 floors, each measuring 40,000 sq ft and the lofts benefit from extraordinary volumes, with areas from 860 to 1,307 sq ft and 11ft-high ceilings.
Furthermore the signage refers to the typeface used on the façade, contrasting the interplay of elements. The new windows are designed as long bands of 6ft high glass that emphasise the building's lines by being slightly recessed from the masonry cladding. Inside the visual identity features patterns inspired by different sewing stitches - a reminder of the factory 125's origins.
On Esplanade Street, the old loading docks have been redesigned to offer 6 ground floor units with outdoor access. The unit volumes on the east side allow for the establishment of residences with studios. On the southwest side, 42 units have been enhanced with mezzanines and 24 corner units benefit from exposures on 2 sides. The units looking onto Chabanel Street and many of those on the east side offer a breathtaking view of Montreal.
To fight the effects of the crisis in the Montreal garment industry, the city of Montreal has invested $23m since 2007 to revitalise the Chabanel sector. The 125 Factory is the first residential project to be created as part of the drive to turn the area into a new neighbourhood. Therefore the designers lowered the ground floor slab to street level on Chabanel Street to create permeability with the surrounding urban fabric.
For the same reason, the main entrance was kept on Chabanel Street. To strengthen the community spirit that underlies the revitalisation of the area, the roof terrace has been transformed into a generous 5,000 sq ft urban lounge with a wooden floor and a series of plant boxes.