Located in the historic harbor of old Montreal, "Maison Sédimentation" seeks to vitalize a historical townhouse while maintaining its authenticity.

Built around 1770 onto the foundations of a much older building that was built in 1692, with a characteristic sloped roof meant to discourage snow buildup and raised end walls that serve as firebreaks, the original building is constructed of Montréal graystone. A local art foundation now owns this building and plans to convert it into a contemporary gallery that can function as a cultural center and exhibition space, showcasing a variety of art and cultural events.

Just like the old city of Montreal, the original building could be categorized as a sedimentary entity, which is saturated with layer upon layer of construction, demolition, and partial recycling of physical boundaries and foundations. The rich history has resulted in complex circulations and varying elevations in this building. Thurs deciding on a strategy of intervention requires an honest assessment of possibility. It is impossible to meet the basic needs of an exhibition space while completely preserving and restoring the current remain. While only preserving the exterior facade and rebuilding everything within it will end up nothing more than a duplicity mask.

What the project is looking for is a palimpsest of physical building layers that can accommodate the program of a contemporary art museum while preserving the authenticity of the original. The existing building sets the keynote with its materiality and spatial organization. The topography and slat-like organization of spaces were considered as the specificity of the old building and were preserved. The objective is to construct a gradience of temporality through three different but complementary approaches: integrated restoration, restoration with an explicit presence of the new, and new construction. Rather than simply adding spaces to accommodate contemporary art, the project is trying to curate sensory experiences.

Through Incremental restoration, this project dissolves the binary opposition between new and old. One will experience a transition from somber and ambiguous spaces to a neutral background; a transition from classical decoration to defamiliarized texture; a transition from spaces with the vestige of the past to a space that elevates reality.


Program: Art Gallery, cafe, multifunction space
Gross Built Area: 3505㎡

Location: Montreal, Québec, Canada
Project type: Renovation New addition
Number of stories: 4 stories, 2 stories underground

Designer: Yang Fei
Instructor: George L. Legendre

Maison Sédimentation by Yang Fei in Canada won the WA Award Cycle 43. Please find below the WA Award poster for this project.

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Yang Fei