J URY COMMENT - A very nice rehabilitation of an existing industrial building, in keeping
with the Montreal tradition of inner city renewal. Retention of the existing urban fabric helps maintain social continuity. Artfully placed additions to the existing structure support the creation of a cohesive community. Good energy performance numbers indicate that considerable attention has also been paid to passive design strategies and detailing of the building envelope. An excellent response to a challenging program.

Built by the Shawinigan Water and Power Company in 1903, the former industrial building in the heart of the Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough of Montreal served as a terminal transformer station for what was to become one of Montreal’s greatest industrial boroughs.
The project required an approach that would encompass issues of architectural heritage, building conservation,  environmental stewardship and community involvement - all fundamental issues of sustainable development and urban renewal. Station No 1, named for the original structure, welcomed its first residents in December, 2010.
Bâtir son Quartier, a not-for-profit social NGO which promotes cooperative housing for low and modest income families, partnered with a local developer to build coop housing comprised of 74 units on a new portion of the greater site.
The coop housing included a variety of unit types ranging from studio apartments to five-bedroom units. This public/private partnership was critical to the realization of a project that would meet the needs of local families and a resident population of which 10% had disabilities.
Also critical was the involvement of the Borough of Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, the City of Montreal Housing Department, and members of the local community groups. During preliminary stages of the project, these organizations pointed out both the need to acknowledge the vestiges of the hidden industrial architecture and the needs of local community to remain in the neighbourhood through access to affordable housing. As a result of their interventions the City required that the developer provide a minimum of 25% of units for social housing.

The original structure stretched across three bays with a clear height of 11 metres. The central bay was hollowed out to create an internal courtyard and the two flanking bays were integrated into the new design. In order to maximize use of the existing structure, the ground floor of the flanking bays was excavated providing for larger two-storey family units.
The limited depth of these bays encouraged the design of relatively shallow units, which results in efficient cross-ventilation. The partially covered central bay provides good snow and rain protection and offers a cool, well ventilated space during summer heat waves.
The original intent had been to make the central bay an entirely landscaped interior court as a communal space for residents. Unfortunately, this ambition was thwarted by local parking regulations and a limited budget, that left no option but to use the courtyard for on-site parking. However, now the building is occupied, residents have voted to exclude cars from the courtyard during summer months and the area has been planted - as much as possible - with indigenous shrubs and trees.
The existing envelope`s significant mass, high insulation values [walls RSI 27, roof RSI 47] together with low lighting density achieved by the careful selection of lighting fixtures installed, high-efficiency energy recovery ventilator and highly responsive, programmable controls show energy savings as high as 42% in comparison with a standard residential construction as prescribed by ASHRAE standard.
Alterations to the existing structure, such as the creation of new openings and the deconstruction of existing sections, provided over 100,000 bricks which were cleaned, set aside during deconstruction and then reused in two new wings of the building. This ensured a seamless continuity of finishes between the old and new facades.
Many other building components such as an overhead crane with its distinct 19th century design, column capitals, and door arches have been carefully preserved and retained on site to evoke delight and surprise.
The majority of the building is now over 100 years old, a testimony to the durability of its materials and to the robustness of its structure. With the rehabilitation and conversion of the building into housing, one could reasonably assume that Station No 1 will last another hundred years. While honouring the preservation of industrial heritage, the project demonstrates that sustainably designed  real estate is not only feasible but highly desirable and can assure the long-term availability of affordable housing. The project is aiming for LEED and Novoclimat© certifications.


  • Owner/developer Coopérative d’habitation Station no1
    Ædifica architecture + design
    General Contractor
    Groupe Dargis
    Civil Engineer
    Desjardins expert conseil
    Mechanical/Electrical Engineer
    Desjardins expert conseil
    Structural Engineer
    Séguin Ingenierie
    Commissioning Agent
    Ædifica Consultants
    Daniel Kudish


  • Energy intensity [building and process energy] = 122 kWh/m2/year
  • Water consumption from municipal sources = 25,519L/occupant/year
  • Recycled materials content = 9%
  • Local materials [800km radius] by value = 43%
Print this article | Send by e-mail

Leave a Reply