VITRINES HABITÉES, MONTREAL
Firm: Daoust Lestage, Montreal
Team: Renée Daoust and Réal Lestage with Caroline Beaulieu, Jean-François Bilodeau, Marc Duchesne, Marie-Josée Gagnon, François Ménard, Stéphane Savoie, Catherine St-Marseille and Nathalie Trudel
They may be relatively modest in scale, just 160 square metres each, but two restaurant vitrines located along Montreal’s Place Jean-Paul-Riopelle have dramatically enriched the area’s urbanscape and nightlife. The concept, of dropping self-contained rooms onto an existing boulevard, was hatched by Daoust Lestage, a veteran firm that understands two fundamental truths about its beloved city: Montrealers adore food, and for most of the year it’s cold outside.
These all-season boîtes now house F Bar and Brasserie T!, each with a 60-seat capacity. That doubles during the warmer months, with sliding doors on one side that open up to allow tables and chairs to spill out onto a sidewalk terrace.
Punctuated by wide glass bands along the walls and ceiling, the white aluminum volumes give diners a sense of commingling with the outdoors, providing clear views of the vibrant fountains and gardens in Place des Festivals (a recently developed urban playground also designed by the firm, and winner of this year’s AZ Award for landscape architecture). To keep the gesture as simple as possible, the narrow vitrines take up less than half of the sidewalk, so they don’t impede foot traffic, and all of the mechanical systems have been hidden underground.
European cities figured out the economic, cultural and community benefits of streetside terraces eons ago, but Daoust Lestage’s Vitrines Habitées offer an inspiring architectural typology for any city – one that can reinvent public space simply, brilliantly and almost instantly.
THE FIRM Since 1988, principals Renée Daoust and Réal Lestage have been bringing together their sensibility for precise architecture and intelligent urban design, which has been roundly praised by clients and the public. One of their hallmark projects is La Promenade Samuel-De Champlain, a monumental 2.5‑kilometre riverside park in Quebec City.
What the jury said:
“A city starts with the quality of its public realm, and this is a brilliant example of how great city building can animate streets. The vitrines are a terrific way, too, of leveraging Montreal’s love for cafés.”
– Shirley Blumberg, KPMB Architects