Edison Residence
Thursday 07 Aug 2014


A small vacant lot located in the hub of Montreal's student area was the basis of the latest design by KANVA. The site endured a fire in the early 20th century, which flattened the existing 19th century historic stone house and it is this historical context that became the primary inspiration for the urban renewal project. It encapsulates an architectural ‘parlante'; an architecture that heightens the intellectual and perceptual experience of its inhabitants by stimulating active looking.

A film sequence photoengraved into the concrete façade is extracted from the sequence of stills from the film: Montreal Fire Department on Runners (Edison, 1901). The film was carefully chosen for both its historical and contextual relevance: referencing the fire that vacated the site and highlighting the prolific inventor Thomas Edison.

Positioned in a Montreal heritage zone, KANVA were limited to masonry, but used this to their advantage by exploring the limits of concrete as a material. The photoengraved sequence plays on the light and shadow in each film still, and by extension, it is perceived in an ever-changing, dynamic manner as the sun or clouds accentuate or soften the visual perception of the vertical ribs that form the image. The panes of glass on the front façade are also screen-printed with complementary images, helping to achieve the desired sequential effect.

A student residence, the building houses thirty individual rooms as well as communal living spaces such as kitchen and living room. Each student room is designed as an optimal module, outfitted with floor to ceiling built-in storage that frames the bed along one wall, and allocates an alcove opposite to slide in a desk. All private rooms look to the quiet communal garden, which wraps the entire footprint of the building.

Yellow is a key marker throughout an otherwise neutral palette. Its use on stools, doors, cushions and tables accents the fittings and give the rooms a feel of individuality. The side façade and garden also contain these graphic yellow markers. 

Edison Residence uses new technology in a socially engaging way, calling for participation and reflection by the viewer and most importantly, it will be an inspiring living space for a student as they broaden their horizons.