New contemporary look for bakery chain, ‘Au Pain Doré’
Nature Humaine, a Montreal-based architectural practice was challenged to find a new contemporary look for ‘Au Pain Doré’, a bakery chain. This retail store, which has been entirely refitted, is located on the ground floor of a 3-storey building in the Côte-des-Neiges neighbourhood of Montreal. The design of ‘Au pain doré’ is based on the European concept of a ‘bakery/café’ that combines the sale of freshly baked products with high quality coffee where the barista is put at centre stage.
The interior space has been completely redesigned with an extension at the back offering a total floor space of 140 square metres. To make this rather narrow and linear space configuration more dynamic, the architects introduced a wooden structure made entirely of American Tulipwood slats. “The spatial concept of the project was inspired by the lattice of wicker bread baskets,” explains Stéphane Rasselet, the architect in charge of the project. “The randomised rhythmic lattice provides a dynamic experience the moment you enter the bakery.”
A structural wooden frame with vertical elements at regular intervals holds a series of Tulipwood slats that have been disposed randomly in the ceiling space to create a trellis work that opens and closes to create gaps for lighting and ventilation. The creamy white tones of Tulipwood really stand out against the black surfaces of the ceiling above. The lattice wraps down the wall turning into shelves for the bread and pastries as well as benches and counter tops.
“We were looking for a wood species for this project that offered interesting grain patterns and different colours and hues. The wood species had to stand out in contrast with the other monochromatic materials used in the project (steel painted black, white tiles, grey flooring) whilst blending into the overall contemporary design style,” added Rasselet.
Tulipwood is also used to create shelves, table tops and the interior cladding of the long serving counter, which runs along the full length of one wall in the main space. Glass display units built into the counter and shelving behind the preparation area are designed to showcase the bakery products. The slats of Tulipwood along the screens of the serving counter have been set at an angle, rather like the external cladding of a log cabin so as to create shadow lines that emphasise again the dynamic perspectives.
The barista area is located at the front of the unit, where bar seating is positioned along the glass shop window facing the street. Further along, the serving counter is set at a diagonal angle to denote the move into the bakery area and allow for further bench seating against the opposite wall. The Tulipwood boarding is raised afterwards to screen off the adjacent kitchen area from view, while the washrooms are hidden in a black box volume. This black box volume extends across the ceiling to break up the wooden trellis structure, separating the serving area on one side and the dining space on the other.
The tables and bench seating furnish the rear half of the bakery, which looks out onto a small terrace through full-height windows. Spotlights and exposed light bulbs are hung from the ceiling to illuminate the shop, suspended over the work surfaces and eating areas. The table tops and bench seats in creamy white Tulipwood contrast with their supporting structures in black steel. The architect opted for a urethane finish with 35% gloss lacquer. This transparent finish he explains, maintains the natural aspect, colour and grain of the wood while enhancing its durability to meet the requirements of a bakery both in terms of usage and maintenance.
“We have already specified Tulipwood in other projects, but never in its natural aspect,” comments Stéphane Rasselet. “We have specified it for instance to create furniture but unplaned and stained to give it a warm and rustic aspect. For this particular bakery project we loved the natural play in nuances of tulipwood. It is a wood species that we would willingly specify on future projects.”