“We are not afraid to work in fields that are not trendy or generally considered amenable to refined projects. Quite the contrary, in fact,” says ACDF Architecture co-founder Maxime-Alexis Frappier. For the Montreal-based designer, it’s an ethos that’s exemplified by the newly completed Lafond Desjardins laboratory in the Quebec town of Laval — a light industrial facility for manufacturing custom dental implants. And fortunately, the result is plenty refined.
Designed for a company that prides itself on combining bespoke attention to detail with high-end manufacturing, the building features an understated, efficient design that’s elevated by graceful proportions and a welcoming public presence. Minimalist, rectilinear volumes of dark, textured brick are paired with a pleasantly transparent glass entrance lobby — and light-filled yet private workspaces — to create a subtle local landmark.
Situated on a prominent boulevard within a busy industrial area of Laval, the Lafond Desjardins laboratory is immediately distinguished by its irregular form. A playful yet practical variation on typically boxy warehouses and manufacturing buildings, the building is contoured to balance privacy and natural light for employees — with second-floor fenestration set back behind the main facade — and to discretely house complex mechanical facilities.
Inside, the workstations and communal spaces — including a tranquil kitchen and lounge — feature simple, sanitary finishes and ample natural light. Blond wood accents are a soothing, organic complement to the industrial interior.
For Lafond Desjardins, creating an inviting space was paramount, both for workplace wellness and for the patients that occasionally visit the laboratory for consultations. Meanwhile, the generously oversized lobby and entrance foyer is also designed to host occasional industry gatherings, where the company’s clients (dentists and orthodontists) can enjoy educational events and professional training on new fabrication techniques in a comfortable setting.
For a primarily industrial facility, it’s an uncommonly warm and engaging space. For ACDF, it’s also representative of a design philosophy. “Everyone deserves a day-to-day life elevated by design,” says Frappier. ‘We believe architects must absolutely be more involved in the industrial sector by creating projects that make a positive contribution to the urban landscape. They should also benefit the workers by providing more attractive, engaging and productive workspaces. Architecture can help alleviate the current labour shortage, and that’s what we committed to from the start of the Lafond Desjardins project.”
In Quebec, the Lafond Desjardins hub is a case study in creating a hospitable and welcoming commercial workplace.