When designing homes for serious art lovers, architects are often asked to tailor certain spaces to showcase favourite pieces. Jean-Maxime Labrecque, however, received a far more unusual request from two recent art-collector clients: They wanted their Montreal residence’s awkwardly narrow lower floor to function not as a gallery for any one particular acquisition, but, rather, as its own site-specific artwork.
The solution that Labrecque’s firm devised has strong echoes of the work of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, yet it is thoughtfully integrated into its basement setting, effectively balancing artistic impact with domestic practicality. The first portion of the two-part installation consists of a narrow passageway featuring both a floor and ceiling clad in mirrored panels. Along the wall to one side, black cabinets provide storage space as well as access to service equipment, such as the home’s hot water tank and HVAC systems. Utilitarian as these may be, they become, when reflected in the nearby mirrors, a captivating spectacle, transforming into a kind of skyline that seems to extend out into the far reaches
of the cosmos.
At the end of the hall, another Matrix-esque optical illusion awaits inside an aluminum-clad volume. Lined inside with floor-to-ceiling mirrors, this intimate retreat reflects the light coming in through its entrance doorway to create the appearance of a curtain wall composed of endlessly multiplied windows. By remaking a once-claustrophobic basement into one that now feels truly infinite, Labrecque offers fresh proof that, frequently, the most compelling solutions are born from the most restrictive of constraints.
AZ Awards category Architecture: Temporary and Experiential Installations Project
Infinite Buildings Location Montreal, Canada Firm Jean-Maxime Labrecque Architecte, Montreal, Canada Team Jean-Maxime Labrecque
Architect Jean-Maxime Labrecque’s site-specific artwork for a Montreal residence wins in Architecture: Temporary and Experiential Installations.