The former St.Charles church sits on a large lot in a predominantly French-Canadian neighbourhood. The church had a long history as a gathering place for the communities that surround it. As a sign of the times, the church closed it doors in 2011 after 100 years. It was deconsecrated in 2013.
This is a development project with the aim to reimagine the purpose of the church building and add density to its surrounding property. A significant challenge and a great opportunity for us in the design is the Heritage status of the building. Its three exterior walls and iconic bell tower are protected and cannot be altered. Working with such constraints often incites the need to be much more creative. As a result, we proposed that the main church building be repurposed as a year-round, indoor food market. There will also be some bistros, a coffee shop and restaurants. As with other great markets from around the world, the St. Charles Market will act as a hub for area residents but hopefully also attract people from around the city.
Surrounding the church, there will be a series of “horizontal homes”, a combination of townhouse and condos above. The design took take some stylistic cues from the church, like the pitch of the roof and the colours from the stained glass. We wanted to creates spaces that would be just as comfortable and spacious as single family dwellings.
In the preliminary design sessions we also looked to Mies van der Rohe for inspiration. In particular we paid close attention to his use of seemingly simple lines and forms, dark steel and coloured glass. We also felt that a modern and minimalistic design juxtaposed with the century church building would make for an unexpected and beautiful overall aesthetic.
The overall master plan for the site also maintains a significant amount of outdoor public space that includes: an outdoor sculpture garden, patios, seating and space for a seasonal al fresco farmer’s market.