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Montreal duplex is simple and elegant

This is the kind of gentle density we need.

It seems like only yesterday I was asking why do we make everything so complicated, and called for simplicity. Then today I see La Duette, a new home for two families in Montreal. Building duplexes is a great way to gently increase density and reduce housing costs, and keeping it all in the family is a nice touch. According to V2com newswire,

Named La DUETTE in reference to the duet, intended for two performers, this new house was designed for a brother and a sister wanting to live under the same roof with their respective families. One of them occupies the upper two floors while the other one is on the lowest level. The challenge of bringing natural light to both interiors despite strict zoning regulations was a welcome opportunity for Natalie Dionne Architecture .

side entrance and walkway© Raphaël Thibodeau via V2com

The new building is attached on one side, but there is an alley or walkway on the other side, which allows for the entrance to the lower unit. I have this in my own house, but it is not nearly as generous as this one.

open kitchen in La Duette© Raphaël Thibodeau via V2com

The upper unit is much bigger than the lower, with a big open kitchen at the rear, and a very generous storage closet, something everyone forgets (including me).

Ground floor plan© Natalie Dionne Architecture

Maple veneer is used throughout on huge doors and partitions meant to keep services out of sight. The warm presence of wood makes up for the cooler feeling of materials such as the floors’ polished concrete and the windows’ aluminum frames.

second floor from playroom© Raphaël Thibodeau via V2com

The building is predominantly clad with light-color clay brick, conferring the narrow structure with a monolithic expression. The choice of this durable, noble material for all three façades was intended to stress the importance of dealing respectfully with Montréal’s urban landscape, including its back alleys.

La Duette stair © Raphaël Thibodeau via V2com

This is certainly the stair of the week, hanging from the ceiling and not touching the concrete floor.

Rear of house La DUETTE© Raphaël Thibodeau via V2com

So why is this on TreeHugger? Because it demonstrates so many things that I like.

This recent building is part of a movement that is gradually transforming Montréal’s traditional streets, as a growing number of young families are moving in. They are looking for friendly surroundings, but also for a contemporary way of life.

It's multifamily. It's minimal (which isn't just about style) and it's simple, boxy, yet looks great. Nice work by Natalie Dionne Architecture.

view in La DUETTE hall© Raphaël Thibodeau via V2com

This is the kind of gentle density we need.