The Dollarama Headquarters
Maria Giulia Zunino
Gross Kaplin Coviensky Architects
Ceragres Tiles Group
The first player in this story is the client, Dollarama, a retail chain that specialises in very cheap products, generally priced at around $1. The chain is rapidly expanding throughout Canada and currently consists of around 600 stores specialising in kitchen and cleaning products.
The second player is the site itself, Mont-Royal, a town that is approaching the centenary of its foundation and is located northwest of the Mount Royal mountain that dominates Montreal, the splendid capital of Quebec, Canada.
The third – and perhaps the most important – player is the firm Gross Kaplin Coviensky Architects (GKC), founded in Montreal more than 50 years ago. Over the years the firm has gradually specialised in high-end projects for industry and commerce, from offices to retail. « In our projects we always strive to act as innovators, devoting great attention to responsibility and respect for the environment, » explain Richard Kaplin and Jerry Coviensky. These efforts are borne out by the Dollarama head office building in Mont-Royal. The elegance of the form based on a three-unit design ensures that the 7,500 square metre area complex is not overly dominating, improving the relationship with the surroundings. The design project features a glass-walled atrium with a height of almost 14 metres which connects the two wings of the offices and serves as the visual and functional hub of the complex, the internal hall acting as the distribution centre for the various pathways. The eco-friendly concept focuses on the orientation of the building, the use of natural lighting, a highly insulating shell and a hybrid hydronic pump air-conditioning system. And the choice of materials highlights the different functions of the various parts of the complex: glass and ceramic for the exterior and interior coverings of the two wings with different heights, to enhance the sensation of dynamism.
And it is here that we meet the fourth player in the project, Ceramiche Caesar, the Italian company belonging to the Concorde Group that specialises in the production of high-end porcelain tile. For this project the architects chose tiles from the More series for a numbers of reasons: their technical characteristics (chemical, wear, abrasion, stain and frost resistance, bending strength, slip resistance and water absorption), the environmental certifications (Ecolabel and ISO 14001), and the variety of large formats (60×60 cm, 60×120 cm and 60×11.7 cm) available for creating special installation patterns. And last but not least its unique colours: the Iridium colour chosen for the project makes light shimmer on the floors and walls of the large entrance hall, on part of the façade and on the columns, creating novel effects that vary according to the angle of incidence of the light.
And it was thanks to Ceramiche Caesar that the Dollarama project won an honourable mention in the « commercial » category of the Ceramic Tiles of Italy Design Competition 2009 organised by Confindustria Ceramica, the awards for which were presented during Coverings 2009 in Chicago.