Fashionlab Design Agency

Photo Marc Cramer

Photo Marc Cramer



The recycling of a car showroom from bookshop, to arts centre to design office. A subtle architectural intervention values the space’s original qualities, a long gallery framed with columns in a white environment.


Location 314, Sherbrooke Street East, Montreal, Canada

Status Built 2001 - Demolished 2009

Client Chantal Gagnon

Type Office, Showroom, Gallery

Floor Area 460 m²


The Window

A new glass window creates a transparent surface between the front exhibition space and the administration offices split on two levels.

The transparency increases the space’s depth and reveals the closely spaced back columns that terminate the perspective.

There are no mullions between the glass panes to emphasize the frame.

Photos Marc Cramer


The Golden Section Proportion

Architecture is about proportion. We are concerned with the proportions of our bodies. Architecture is not different.

But what is the right proportion in architecture? The Golden Section defines a rectangle considered harmonious. Surprisingly, a Golden Section rectangle fits between the columns, from floor to ceiling. This is the proportion used for the new glass wall.


The Details

The archtectural feature of the project is the glass partition. The panes are joined with a silicone joint and laterally braced at mid height with a glass stiffener that connects the wall to the mezzanine.


Very Tall Washrooms

The washrooms take advantage of the exhibition hall’s ceiling height.

Unexpected, it is a surprise to enter a small shaft to take care of private business.


The Red Floor

It is one thing to have a red floor. It is another to discover how it makes the ceiling appear pink. Pink was not intended but became part of the project.

White surfaces are great to diffuse ambient colours. They make the columns become discreet silhouettes.


The Lighting

The lighting in the washroom is made of a series of type traditional bulbs screwed in a dissimulated socket located in a built-in steel case.

Intended for fashion conscious people, this simple design is based on the dressing room principle seen in theatres. The face must be evenly lit.


The Solid Handrail

Solid handrails are best. They ground you with the building.

In the case of Fashionlab, they are made of a solid steel bar of 32 mm diameter — as opposed to most handrails made from hollow tubes.

The steel’s mass can be felt at the touch. The grip feels secure. The sound is muted.


The Montreal Gazette

FASH 2003 Abel 2_1804x1200.jpg

Project Team

Architect Paul Laurendeau

Structural Engineering NCK

Mechanical/Electrical Engineering BPA

General Contractor Yergeau Cart Construction


Paul LaurendeauMONTREAL