Studio Fei unveils vision for Montreal's Heritage Townhouse: A thriving hybrid art centre

21 Jun 2023

Studio Fei, an emerging architectural firm based in New York City, has been selected as the winner of the Architizer A+Awards 2023 Popular Choice in the

Photo credit: Studio Fei

Studio Fei, an emerging architectural firm based in New York City, has been selected as the winner of the Architizer A+Awards 2023 Popular Choice in the "Unbuilt Cultural" category for its visionary project, "Maison Sédimentation." This prestigious recognition is part of the 11th annual Architizer A+Awards, the world's leading online architecture platform and the largest international architecture awards program, which celebrates the best architecture of the year.

new exhibition space
Photo credit: Studio Fei

Located in the heart of Montreal's historic harbour in Old Montreal, "Maison Sédimentation" aims to revitalize a heritage townhouse, while preserving its authenticity. This extraordinary project caught the attention of the Architizer A+Awards jury, who recognized its innovative approach to transforming the building into a vibrant hybrid art centre. By seamlessly blending contemporary design elements with historical fabric, Studio Fei's design creates a captivating space that celebrates both the past and the present.

Originally built around 1770 upon the foundations of a much older structure dating back to 1692, the townhouse boasts distinctive features such as a sloped roof, designed to prevent snow buildup, and raised end walls that act as firebreaks. Constructed with Montréal graystone, the building, now under the ownership of a local art foundation, is set to undergo a remarkable transformation into a contemporary gallery and cultural centre. The envisioned space will serve as an exhibition venue, hosting a diverse range of art and cultural events.

Similar to the historical city of Montreal, the townhouse itself can be considered a sedimentary entity, infused with layers of construction, demolition, and partial recycling of physical boundaries and foundations. This complex history has given rise to intricate spatial configurations and varying elevations within the building. In light of this, a careful strategy is required to strike a balance between preservation and meeting the functional requirements of an exhibition space.

The project seeks to create a palimpsest of physical building layers that can harmoniously accommodate the program of a contemporary art museum while preserving the authenticity of the original structure. The existing building serves as a foundation, both in terms of materiality and spatial organization. The topography and spatial arrangement have been meticulously preserved, acknowledging their significance as unique characteristics of the old building. The objective is to construct a seamless integration of temporal experiences through three distinct but complementary approaches: integrated restoration, restoration with a deliberate expression of new elements, and new construction. Instead of simply adding spaces to accommodate contemporary art, the project aims to curate immersive sensory experiences.

Through incremental restoration, "Maison Sédimentation" transcends the dichotomy between the old and the new. Visitors will embark on a transformative journey, transitioning from sombre and enigmatic spaces to a neutral backdrop, from classical ornamentation to intriguing textures, and from remnants of the past to an elevated reality.

Studio Fei is excited to unveil "Maison Sédimentation" as a testament to the intersection of history, art, and architectural innovation. The project is poised to breathe new life into Montreal's cultural landscape, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in a multidimensional experience that pays homage to the past, while embracing the present.


Technical sheet

  • Project Name: Maison Sédimentation
  • Location: Montréal, Québec, Canada
  • Architecture Firm: Studio Fei
  • Project Sector/Typology: Cultural, Renovation, Repurpose
  • Project Stage: Concept
  • Total area: 3,000SM
  • Image credits: Studio Fei