The Avenue on Portage
by 5468796 Architecture

| 11 comments
 

Two commercial buildings in Winnipeg have been converted into an apartment block with mirrored balconies that stick out like open drawers.

The Avenue on Portage by 5468796 Architecture
Photograph by James Brittain

Constructed at the start of the twentieth century, the Hample and Avenue Buildings occupy a prominent position on Portage Avenue. They once housed shops and offices but had stood empty since the 1990s.

The Avenue on Portage by 5468796 Architecture
Photograph by James Brittain

The renovation by 5468796 Architecture involved upgrading the ground floor of both buildings for commercial use and adapting the upper floors to accommodate 75 rental apartments. At just three storeys, the Hample Building was half as tall as the Avenue Building, so the architects also added extra storeys to bring the two buildings into line.

The Avenue on Portage by 5468796 Architecture
Photograph by James Brittain

Steel balconies cantilever through existing window openings for 20 of the apartments. Each one is clad in mirrored aluminium and has a see-through gridded base.

The Avenue on Portage by 5468796 Architecture
Photograph by James Brittain

"A series of formally simple moves dramatically transform the original facades, shifting public perception of the buildings from eyesores to a unified urban landmark," say the architects.

The Avenue on Portage by 5468796 Architecture
Photograph by James Brittain

At ground floor level, a mirrored canopy gives shelter to two different entrances. Stretching across the facade of both buildings, the volume is intended to unite the two structures.

The Avenue on Portage by 5468796 Architecture
Photograph by James Brittain

The first entrance leads though the glazed shopfront facade into the large ground floor unit, which is currently occupied by a charity organisation.

The Avenue on Portage by 5468796 Architecture
Photograph by James Brittain

The second entrance is dedicated to residents, who are led through a V-shaped recess into a stairwell at the centre of the building.

The Avenue on Portage by 5468796 Architecture
Photograph by James Brittain

Similar renovation projects on Dezeen include the overhaul of a crumbling tower block in Paris and an upgrade of an office block in Milan. See more architectural renovations.

The Avenue on Portage by 5468796 Architecture
Photograph by James Brittain

Here's some more text from 5468796 Architecture:


The Avenue on Portage by 5468796 Architecture

The Avenue on Portage revives two historic commercial buildings from the turn of the century located one block west of Winnipeg's most famous corner, Portage and Main. Once major retail destinations in the city, the Avenue and Hample Buildings experienced a slow decline, becoming blights to the street and downtown. In 2010 the client purchased the site to develop the derelict properties into 75 rental apartments and 22,500 square feet of commercial space.

The Avenue on Portage by 5468796 Architecture
Ground floor plan - click for larger image

A series of formally simple moves dramatically transform the original facades, shifting public perception of the buildings from eyesores to a unified urban landmark. Hovering above the sidewalk, steel balconies cantilever from existing window openings and provide outdoor access for apartment dwellers. Clad in mirror-finish aluminium, the balconies become camouflaged against their surroundings, reflecting at turns the sky, the façade and the street below.

The Avenue on Portage by 5468796 Architecture
First and second floor plan - click for larger image

While the balconies push residents out beyond the façade, the main floor pulls pedestrians in, softening the boundary between the public streetscape and the private interiors. Inside, apartments sized between 430 and 1020 s.f. fill the upper four floors of the Avenue, as well as a new, three-storey addition to the Hample.

The Avenue on Portage by 5468796 Architecture
Third floor plan - click for larger image

In order to address the deep building footprint and provide windows for interior units, two existing light wells are carried down through all residential floors, while a third is extended into the new addition.

The Avenue on Portage by 5468796 Architecture
Fourth and fifth floor plan - click for larger image

The main floor is occupied by Manitoba Start, a non-profit organisation that provides services for new immigrants in Winnipeg. At street level a wall of glass folds back into the building to create a deep, V shaped entrance that broadens the width of the sidewalk.

The Avenue on Portage by 5468796 Architecture
Concept diagram - click for larger image

Overhead, a faceted, mirror-finish canopy angles outward 13 feet from the face of the Hample before returning to meet the edge of the Avenue, unifying the two facades. Together, these elements draw the city into the building's expression, making it an active participant in the life of the street.

  • got_josh

    So fun, eye-catching, simple and clever use of durable materials.

  • Imma g. Nation

    Interesting but I can’t get out on the balconies with my skirt on!

  • Greenish

    Balconies you can see through the floor of? Um, what?

    Even if the pedestrians are too far off to notice, surely that’s going to be fairly awkward for neighbouring balcony users?

  • anon

    Architecture aside, I’d like to know how practical it is to run a practice named 5468796 Architecture.

    • blah

      I imagine it makes for interesting Google searching.

  • Fon

    I love the design and the look but how do you put your BBQ grill on a grate?!

  • karenjane5

    Thanks so much for this feature! I live in Winnipeg and have been intrigued with this project since the renovations started.

  • alison

    No grills are allowed on the balcony, there is a huge seventh-floor open-air space that has a BBQ to use.

  • Eva

    It’s nice, but not usable. I would like to put out a chair or two and sit in a balcony. Now with a grate it’s impossible (not to mention if you have pets or kids). Therefore the balcony becomes only a fancy decorative feature.

  • jody

    Great for peeing pets.

  • Rae Claire

    Will probably end up as storage for bikes and such. Good spot to flat-dry a sweater in summer.