The units of this downtown Ottawa condominium were marketed by its developer as “statements of modern, urban living”—cliché real estate language used to describe small apartments featuring cramped, segregated spaces and plans that allow only a single furniture arrangement, and therefore only a single way for the space to be inhabited. Confident that we could turn this misleading language into actual fact, we began a dramatic rethinking of this 850 square foot space.
The remaking of this developer unit rejects the model of large homes that segregate “served” (public) space from “service” (private) spaces. Most urban apartments simply cannot comfortably create two such distinct types of spaces. With this, one must make dynamic and poetic use of Poché (pronounced po-shay) — the solid spaces between walls. Even after the existing partitions were removed, the interior remained a jumble of mechanical units and columns. The perimeter was regularized by a continuous floor-to-ceiling wall of cabinetry and elliptical forms (the most spatially-advantageous shape) were used to create enclosures that both conceal the mechanical units and columns.
The areas formed by the ellipses are closets and to maintain a visually unified interior, the same form was then used to create the shower. Thus, the shower, generally one of the most private of spaces, becomes the focal point of the unit. (How many apartments can boast a shower with a 270-degree view over the city?) The two closet ellipses are made of silk stretched to steel frames while the shower is made of curved glass with the same silk over its exterior.
The entry’s urinal, (bathroom technology engineered to minimize splashing) provides water for a very large dog with sloppy drinking habits. A study housing a workstation, shelving, and the keyboard of an electric piano fitted to a drawer are likewise folded into the depth of the storage wall. A “garden” of fibre-optic rods that sway and make sounds in the manner of reeds is placed around the edges of the balcony creates an outdoor living room whose garden aspect, even in the winter, creates a serene visual counterpoint to the bustle of the city beyond and below.
Paul duBellet Kariouk (Principal) with Frederic Carrier
Chris Davis (Senior Design Associate)
Todd Duckworth (Design Associate)
Sarah Fleming (Design Associate)
Donald Thom, TimberWolf Contracting
Custom Hardware and Fittings:
Steven Tremblay, Graham Beard
J.P. Yelle Custom Furniture
Christian Lalonde, Photolux Studio