Based in Montreal, Canada, NatureHumaine is an architecture and design firm established by Stéphane Rasselet. Founded in 2004, this firm centers around residential and renovation work. Specializing in creating built spaces, this firm holds credit for building numerous houses, museums, restaurants, office spaces, and such.
Here are 15 such incredible projects NatureHumaine:
1. Bessborough Residence, Montreal
Located in Montreal’s Notre-Dame-de-Grace district, this project was a challenge to renovate the ground floor of a 1950s duplex. NatureHumaine ingeniously incorporated enlarged open spaces in this Residence while maintaining spatial division. The concept of the project is based on three primary blocks comprising volumes to separate spaces and emphasize the wall.
The black block in the central part outlines the circulation with a flight of stairs and provides a filter between the different functions. The staircase, made of an alternation of glass, MDF panels and steel rods create a rhythm between solids and hollow and highlights its transparency. The wooden touch in the library and walk-in conveys a sense of warmth in this design.
In contrast, the grey blocks are minimalistic, blanketing the different functions of service in a harmonious layer. The varying palette of textures in contrast with the minimalist furniture defines the abstract concept of the project.
2. Le Soufflet, Montréal
This structure located in Rue Beaubien Ouest in Montreal was an old commercial building renovated and extended into an office at Beaubien Street. It comprises the original two-storey base which gives way to a new floor composed of a monolithic steel roof and a string of black windows which offer a panoramic view of the Molson’s park trees.
This concept is further conveyed through a band of sun-breakers in the terrace inspired by old folding cameras. The French translation “appareil photo à soufflet” inspires the name of the building.
The structure is a contemporary reinterpretation of the pergola design. The brick details and string of windows highlight the perception of depth provided by the side alley. The new office floor is characterized by a conference room in front accentuated by the terrace and skylights which light up the lobby and circulation area. The old structure is attributed to several original lamps decorated in contrast with the new minimalist lightings. The monochrome tones of the design are balanced by bright coloured blocks.
3. Bolton Residence, QC
Built on the sloping contours of the countryside in Eastern Townships, this family house was completed by NatureHumaine in 2014. It is composed of two blocks; a wooden faceted block erected on the plateau surface which supports a cantilevered block making up the ground floor.
Blanketed by a canopy of trees, the gable-roofed block rises into the air, conceptualising the vision of a floating house. A longitudinal band of windows open to vast views of Mount Oxford and the valleys below. A black volume in the centre of the house separates living spaces from the bedroom.
4. La Doyenne Renovation and Extension, Montreal
Located near Montreal, La Doyenne is a transformation and extension of a Victorian house built in 1887. Since the house is situated in a high-density built environment, the main challenge was to design an extension whilst providing the occupant’s privacy from the surrounding buildings.
The design is superfluous, integrating multiple floor-level variations. This intrusion retains the verticality of the interior spaces while distancing it from the neighbouring terrace levels.
5. Poisson Blanc Chalet, Laurentides
Exploring the potential of geometric patterns, this monochromic structure optimizes compactness and minimalism. The rugged topography of the site forms the basis of the architectural concept of the angular and monolithic design of the project. The house is anchored in bedrock on the sloping terrain.
The house is characterized by a square plan and gabled roof which plays into the geometric nature of the design. The verticality inside the structure is accentuated by deep space underexposed joists and the criss-crossed patterns of the roof visible from the interiors. Maximization of functionality and aesthetics with a modest budget is reinforced by compact spaces, minimal circulation, the grouping of services, and views of the landscape. The project optimizes affordability and aesthetics with a variety of simple and locally available materials.
6. Victoria Residence, Montreal
Victoria Residence, built in Rosemont-La-Petite-Patrie is another of NatureHumaine’s renovation and expansion projects. The concept of the design integrates three structural elements in the renewal of the house. First, a cantilevered block anchored in the facade was added to build a new bedroom. The second element is a new balcony on the front façade and the third is a staircase in the centre of the house.
The renewed elements are characterized by a distinction in colour which displays a variety of shades of sage green with changing exposure and light intensity.
7. Dessier Residence, Plateau Mont Royal
The Dessier Residence in the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough was transformed from a duplex into a single-family house. The geometric concept of the design is expressed by angles and tonal contrasts emphasizing the two contemporary blocks in the structure. The façade expands over three levels contributed by the addition of a mezzanine in the rear.
The structure is composed of two volumes which define the dynamic relationship between the two angular units. Each unit is replenished by two large glass panes which visually connect the structure to the garden below. A huge skylight on the roof opens to a gigantic staircase in the heart of the house, canopied by monochromic spaces.
8. Ville-Marie Apartment, Montreal
This is an interior renovation project designed to open up a partitioned space and check the lack of lighting in the center of the house. The space is characterized by straight lines which appear distorted surrounding a reflective stainless-steel volume. The rooms are positioned alongside corridors made of oak veneered panels which induce a rhythmic concept.
The panels are designed flexibly to allow indirect sunlight to penetrate inside the structure and compensate for the dimness in the heart of the house. A varied distinction of sober colour tones highlights the different units in the structure, inducing a sense of singularity.
9. Aesop Mile End, Montreal
The Aesop Store in the Mile End defines the shift of heritage and culture between the 1880s to the 1980s with several waves of immigrants finding home in the neighbourhood. The underlying concept of deconstruction is conveyed through the nakedness of the exteriors, characterized by exposed raw materials.
A monolithic limestone sink lies in the heart of the store for visual stimulation, encouraging radial circulation to emphasize the nuances of the walls. A plywood walled structure accelerates colour play while amber glass bottles kept on brass shelves convey timelessness.
10. In Suspension, Montreal
This transformation project aimed to create living spaces from the last two floors of a building. The challenge was to meet the desire of creating a shared functional space while still allowing each person their own privacy. The concept was defined by two large floating boxes crafted by removing the floor separating the two levels to establish a large open space.
The suspended boxes layered with plywood panels are composed of a bedroom and bathroom each. The central gap carved out of this configuration is utilized as a physical exercise room. The structure is horizontally connected by a black block that contains various services.
11. ‘Au Pain Doré’, Montréal
‘Au Pain Doré’ is a bakery renovated by NatureHumaine, located on the ground floor of a building in Côte-des-Neiges. The challenge of giving this bakery a contemporary look was drawn from the European concept of a café. The interiors were completely rebuilt with an added extension of a 1500 sq ft unit in the back.
The spatial design emphasizes light and ventilation enhanced by a lattice created with a structural wooden frame. The lattice, layering the shelved walls was inspired by the concept of wooden bread baskets. The rhythmic flow created by the lattice offers a dynamic expression to the design.
12. Guido Molinari Foundation, Montreal
This museum, formerly the residence of minimalist painter Guido Molinari, was transformed into a conservation centre to display the artist’s work. With two facades shielded by windows, the project faced an issue with the lack of display surface for the exhibit space. The larger paintings by the artist posed another challenge.
These constraints were solved by designing three volumes in motion that could accommodate large artworks and be utilized as additional display surfaces. These movable volumes offered a variety of arrangements.
13. Somerville Residence, Montreal
Somerville Residence in Montreal is a renovation of a row house dating back to the 1970s. There was no alteration in the exterior face as the house is a part of a uniform series of row houses. The interiors were completely reconfigured to meet the requirements of the clients. A triple-height void in the heart of the house was covered by a skylight. The verticality of the triple-height space is highlighted by a flight of stairs. A wooden panelled white wall provides a dramatic aesthetic to the design.
The stainless-steel suspensions installed earlier were painted black and rearranged rhythmically. The minimalist expression of the design is accentuated by maple wooden floors, concrete kitchen islands, and velvet-laminated cabinets while the translucent glass plates in the bathroom offer luminosity.
14. La Sentinelle, QC
Located on an L-shaped site, exposed to the vast views of the lake ‘Lac-de-la-Cabane’, the La Sentinelle was a family’s ticket to living in a custom home in favour of their old country house. To utilize the shape of the site, the structure is composed of a rectangular block with an east-west orientation anchored in the top of the topography and another north-south oriented block slipped underneath.
The upper block comprises the living spaces while the lower accommodates the children’s living spaces. The name “The Sentinel” is derived from the sensation of a bird sitting at the edge of a lake provided by the peculiar design of the façade.
15. Stacked House, Montreal, QC
The client, who wished to design their own house, collaborated with NatureHumaine for the Stacked House. Situated in an alley of Montreal’s Plateau neighbourhood, the design incorporates the visual expression of plateau alleyways in its renovation.
The concept of a stacked house arises from the challenges posed by the limited floor space at the site, which called for a high-rise residence. It consists of four blocks stacked vertically. Daylighting, ventilation, and open spaces are liberated through a void in the heart of the house.