The expansion and conversion of the commercial premises of the former All Nations Church

Located in the Centre-South Montreal borough of Ville-Marie, Carré des Arts is a 46-unit residential rental project imagined by Sid Lee Architecture and executed by ADHOC Architectes. With the expansion and conversion of the commercial premises of the former All Nations Church, this project offers a unique visual signature, combining the modernity of added residential spaces with the heritage of the former place of worship, previously converted at one time into a recording studio.

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Carré des Arts
Photo credit: David Boyer

Urban Dynamism

Facing the northern entrance of the Saint-Jacques Market, the project, spanning the block of Sherbrooke East, Wolfe, and Atateken streets, required considerable thought about how to integrate high density housing into a complex urban context overlooking three different streets. The uniqueness of the proposal is a direct response to the abundance of public space that surrounds it and, in a way, reframes the former place of worship within the evolution of the area. The project was also conceived through public consultation, and was the subject of several upstream reflections leading to social acceptance by local residents and organizations.

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Carré des Arts
Photo credit: David Boyer

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Carré des Arts
Photo credit: David Boyer

Preserving Heritage

Working on the conversion of a heritage building requires great understanding of the context, and the desire to ensure a certain architectural and socio-cultural continuity. With the new Carré des Arts project, Sid Lee Architecture wanted not only to preserve the existing building of the former church, but also to highlight its unique form and features, reflecting the cultural heritage of the site.

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Carré des Arts
Photo credit: Sid Lee Architecture

Implantation on a cramped site with complex setbacks required, among other things, meticulous planning of pedestrian and vehicular access, and technical expertise to preserve the integrity of the building and ensure the most thought-out conservation possible. The connection between the older elements and the contemporary additions was executed with precision, creating a harmonious interplay of levels that enhances the heritage of the environment. Many features of the original architecture, such as the ornamental brick treatments and the striking peace symbols on the façade, as well as the massive door, were retained in their entirety in the conversion effort. These details lend authenticity to the elements and add aesthetic depth to the project; a new signature rooted in history.

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Carré des Arts
Photo credit: Sid Lee Architecture

New Dimensions

Hugging the old church, the new volume housing the majority of the apartments is distinguished by vibrant geometry. Interlocking with the heritage building like a series of blocks delicately stacked on a pedestal, the checkerboard building creates a surprising dynamic of form and function.

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Carré des Arts
Photo credit: David Boyer

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Carré des Arts
Photo credit: David Boyer

Opening and Light

Beyond this controlled contrast between the frugal style of the old church and the vibrant style of the new glazed volumes, the key idea of the project was to project warm living areas open to a unique urban context. The structure of the grid gives way to vast, luminous, and open interior spaces. Wooden surfaces adorning each of the balconies accentuate the enveloping aspect of the form, while resonating with the warmth and dynamism of the vibrant neighborhood.

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Carré des Arts
Photo credit: David Boyer

About Sid Lee Architecture

Sid Lee Architecture is an affiliate of Sid Lee creative agency. The firm was founded by architects and urban designers Jean Pelland and Martin Leblanc, business partners since 1999. Today, the pair leads a multidisciplinary team of 70 professionals from the fields of urban planning, architecture, and interior design. Since 2015, Sid Lee Architecture has been a member of kyu, a collective of creative companies established by Hakuhodo DY Holdings.

About ADHOC Architectes

ADHOC Architectes is a creative architecture firm driven by passionate people with complementary talents. To respond to the architecture, interior design, or urban design projects entrusted to them, they form an ad hoc team to respond specifically to the characteristics of the targeted project. Apart from traditional structures, this work organization system makes it possible to create a real collaborative and multidisciplinary research laboratory.


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