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Black Box I And II By Natalie Dionne Architecture In Montreal, Quebec

In the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce area of Montreal, Quebec, residents are seeing firsthand that a small addition can make a very large impact.

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce was originally developed at the beginning of the 20th century as an upscale suburb that is comprised of largely semi-detached townhouses. The original builders of the community drew their inspiration from the British Arts and Crafts Movement and homes were therefore often adorned with natural materials such as stone, brick, and wood.





As these residences have aged, become outdated, and property owners have sought ways to increase their size, a number of solutions have been implemented. For two particular residences, Natalie Dionne Architecture honoured the original dwellings and added a contemporary twist, with two unique extensions entitled Black Box I and II.





Black Box I and II are compact housing additions which serve as efficient and effective green alternatives in lieu of having to rebuild or create excessively large homes.

The name Black Box (or La Boîte Noire in French) was inspired by the original homeowner’s work as a photographer, while the colour black is essential to provide a stark contrast with the original materials it comes into contact with.





The wood elements of the interior are influenced by the historic use of wood in the Arts and Crafts Movement. This design detail enhances the overall quality of space providing a truly authentic and historically relevant experience for the occupant. The design solution, therefore, acts as a seamless transition between past and present.

From a conceptual point of view, the overall form was uniquely derived from the offset geometries of an unfolding jewelry box lid.




Both Black Box I and II are a fine example of a modern form of preservation and a representation of the high degree of collaboration between the architect, the builders, and the owners.

All three parties were actively involved in the search for quality, both technical and aesthetic. This is evidently displayed through the juxtaposition of the various materials and the fine balance achieved between the existing and the new.





In my opinion, these new additions really elevate these buildings. Black Box I and II allow the art of architecture to manifest itself in all of its dimensions.

A job well done!

To learn more about their brilliant projects, visit Natalie Dionne Architecture. also celebrated Natalie Dionne Architecture in one of their past stories entitled A Modern Masterpiece Near Mount Sutton, Quebec.


Interested in learning more about residential designs centered around the colour black? Then make sure to read these articles:

– Black Houses In The Canadian Landscape

– Black Houses In Canadian Urban Settings


All photos courtesy of Natalie Dionne Architecture.


Researched and written by Kimberly Kartzmark, Design Enthusiast/Freelance Writer 

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