Fourteen years ago, four amazing electronic music visionaries created an event that revolutionized the Montréal cultural scene: Piknic Électronik. Just a few minutes from downtown on the picturesque Île Sainte‑Hélène, the Sunday afternoon celebration has become so huge that it draws top DJs from around the world. In 2007, the success of Igloofest, a winter version of the same concept, exploded the phenomenon. Today, the formula has been replicated on an international scale, from Barcelona to Melbourne, through Dubai and across to Santiago. To give their ever-expanding team a vibrant yet practical place to work, the producers contacted the architects at L. McComber. The new HQ will be fun, laid‑back, open and productive…just like the young company!
Private open spaces
How do you balance the benefits and annoyances of an open‑concept office? How do you encourage collaboration while keeping things relatively private? How do you keep the hubbub of boisterous colleagues down? Open‑concept, the ultimate symbol of synergy and life in a workplace, accommodates more people in large, bright spaces. To make sure that everyone could enjoy the space without having to endure the general cacophony, the architects employed three strategies: create semi-open executive offices for the four co‑founders, add multiple set‑back areas where people can gather casually, and offer a variety of small closed, isolated meeting rooms.
Light for all
Located in a former clothing factory in the Mile End neighbourhood, the office has a wide bank of windows that wraps around the building. To make the most of this feature, workstations line the outer walls. This arrangement offers employees plenty of natural light and a sweeping view over the Jardin des possibles.
Made from a solid ash slab on raw bent steel supports, the custom furniture was raised to give employees the option of either sitting or standing. A low steel screen divides the individual workstations and lets employees personalize their own corner with a system of magnets. LED strips are concealed under the bend of the top section to directly illuminate the work surface.
Four founders, four booths
Right in the centre are four semi-open booths, very much reminiscent of take-out stands, for each of the founding partners. Made from local poplar plywood and translucent polycarbonate, they let in lots of natural light. These compact micro-offices have an integrated work desk and a small sit-down table in solid maple for private one‑on‑ones. A large pivot pane encourages team members to stop by and grab some work…to go!
Multiple gathering spots
Between the four executive offices and away from the workstations, the Bequia modular seating system made in Montreal by Perez furniture, and low bent steel tables serves as a casual spot for people to gather. With countless configurations, the space lends itself well to all sorts of activities, including friendly chit-chat, team meetings, group training, screenings, conferences and cocktail receptions. Although set back, these more discrete activities are still public. For confidential meetings, visitors and employees can use a number of closed‑off rooms with a variety of setups.
A central feature of the layout, the long bar‑style counter makes a statement with its fifteen feet of solid ash. Spanning the length of the lunchroom, it is ideal for co‑workers to enjoy a chat over a meal. A large serving hatch with cabinets, top and bottom, hides all the kitchen tools and implements. Seated comfortably at the counter, the team has an unobstructed view of the open office. This makes for a perfect post-industrial piknic in great company!
Creative and inspiring, Piknic Électronik HQ speaks to the values of the burgeoning company through its layout. Open, warm and inclusive, it provides the optimal balance between peaceful and lively spaces.
L. McComber, living architecture
L. McComber is an architectural and design firm well‑known for the relevance of its urban design. From building residential units on irregular lots to designing niche businesses and transforming cramped or unloved spaces, each project unites evocative visuals with impeccable execution.
Laurent McComber, the firm’s founding architect, started out working as a general contractor for eight years, melding construction with design. Since 2005, his approach has focused on the quality of relationships forged through each project and on the involvement of craftspeople in the design process. Surrounded by a dynamic and creative team, he is approached by clients who are passionate about architecture, including Piknic Électronik, Rise Kombucha and Bota Bota, just to name a few.
The firm’s many awards and varied publications speak to the community’s interest in its work. Recipient of the OAQ Prix d’excellence award for its Lignes aériennes project in 2009, L. McComber has more recently won the Grand prix du design award in 2015 for clinique D in Laval as well as the inaugural Frédéric Metz award - Commerce Design Montréal - for the Boulangerie Guillaume project in Montréal’s Mile End district.
Project name: Piknic Électronik
Location: Mile-End, Montréal
Client: Piknic Électronik & Igloofest
Architect/designer: L. McComber ltée
Design team: David Grenier, Olivier Lord, Philip Staszewski et Laurent McComber
Collaborators: Design par Judith Portier, Félix Lepage, Stéphane Latreille
General contractor: Construction Mathieu Champagne
Modular seating system : Perez Furniture
Photo credit: Raphaël Thibodeau
Project end date: January 2016
Budget: 300 000$
Area: 5 020 ft2