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The Avenue on Portage by 5468796 Architecture

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.