BLACK BOX II By Natalie Dionne Architecture

BLACK BOX II is the latest in a series of tiny additions impacting existing architecture in a big way. Conceived as a jewelry box, large openings blur the interior/exterior boundary, revealing its treasure of fine cabinetmaking work within through the playful use of complementary surface materials.

The BLACK BOX II addition is covered with large plates of iridescent, black fibre cement board, with a perforated motif for the loggia, finely assembled with matching rivets. In contrast, blond wood and light porcelain and ceramics, illuminate the interior.

When large windows fold open to incorporate the garden into the home, interior and exterior materials interact to connect spaces. Inside, oak wood paneling covers the walls and ceiling of the shed, while a lattice of western red cedar lines the exterior alcove. The slate slabs of the terrace adjoin the concrete-like porcelain floor of the kitchen. Heritage of the past, the original oak wood floor of the dining room, preserved and restored, set the tone. The kitchen island, made of solid oak, stands monumentally in the centre and serves as an altar to daily rituals. At the perimeter stands, more soberly, white or black furniture and cabinetry.

This project is a plea for constructive art, recognizing the complicity between the architect, the builders and the owners, all actively involved in the search for quality, both technical and aesthetic. The art of architecture manifests itself here in all its dimensions.

This semi-detached townhouse, made of red clay brick, is typical of Westmount and the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough of Montreal. Through the reconfiguration of outdated internal divisions and the grafting of two black volumes in juxtaposition, the pre-existing architecture is enhanced and transformed to better reflect the modern lifestyle and aspirations of its inhabitants. We are always striving to strike the right balance between new and old in order to create a coherent whole, preserving the authenticity of the existing details while affirming the contemporaneity of our interventions.

Data Sheet

Official name of the project: BLACK BOX II

Location: Borough Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Montreal, QC, Canada

Area of project: 2 130 ft2/198 m2

Addition: 180 ft2/17 m2

Project end date: Winter 2018

Architect/Designer: Natalie Dionne Architecture

Project Managers: Natalie Dionne

Design team:  Natalie Dionne, Martin Laneuville, Corinne Deleers and Ariane Côté-Bélisle



Contractor: Pierre Aubin

Engineer: Aldrin Salpunariu

Cabinetmaker: Pixel&scie
Photographer: Raphaël Thibodeau

Outdoor products

Cementfiber: Swisspearl from PROMOSTONE

Windows: Nanawall, Alumico and Solarcom from CUBO

Outdoor slate from ARDOBEC


Indoor products

Porcelain, ceramic and slate: RAMACIERI and CÉRAGRÈS-LES-BAINS

Plumbing accessories: CÉRAGRÈS-LES-BAINS

Appliances: Libher and Miele from ALMAR

Integrated lighting: SISTEMALUX

Furniture: Bell lamp black, chairs, stools and accessories from JAMAIS ASSEZ

About Natalie Dionne Architecture

Trained in architecture and video art, Natalie Dionne opened Natalie Dionne Architecte in 2000. Her work engages a sophisticated exploration of the links between art and architecture, film, and interior design. Early in her career she worked with artists on the production and installation of public art. In 2008, she collaborated with her partner, Martin Laneuville, on the Maison en U (U House), an urban residence focused inwards around an interior courtyard that accommodates both their family home and studio office. When it was completed in 2008, Laneuville left the film and television industry to join Dionne full time in design development. The U house received a Prix d’excellence from the Ordre des architectes du Québec in 2009.