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Project Type:





Site Area:  

Calgary, Alberta

New Commercial Building


To be Determined

Private Client

770 square metres (8 320 square feet)

910 square metres (0.22 acres)

Sited on a gateway location within the vibrant community of Marda Loop, The Martel Block is designed as a contextually appropriate, boutique commercial building.

The intersection of 34th Avenue and 20th Street SW has historically functioned as the southern entrance to Marda Loop’s main shopping street.   The site is visually prominent to northbound traffic on 20th  due to a bend in the road at the intersection.  At a width of 100 feet, the site does not allow for the economies of scale that other projects in the immediate vicinity enjoy, which host much larger developments at up to 6 storeys in height.  We viewed this as an opportunity to create more compact commercial project that respects the low-density residential buildings to the east and the south.  Our goal was to create a two storey building that is of the character of the existing neighbourhood, rather than inserting a larger, more stylistically foreign design into it.

The proposed design utilizes brick and wood paneling as a framing element, and introduces a tactile nature to the site that is more appropriate than metal panel or large expanses of glass.  The building features a single, unifying gesture: a ribbon of wood paneling that wraps the entire building from corner to corner.  This ribbon reaches its apex at the southwest corner of the building, at the intersection of 34th and 20th.   When viewed from the south, this apex provides a welcoming gesture to the high street area. 


A further advancement of local contextualism is the ‘sound sculpture’ that hangs below the apex on the street corner.  This sculpture is to feature a series of bells that will emulate the chimes of Marda Loop streetcars, last seen in this area in the immediate postwar years.  These bells will be used for timekeeping purposes, and also create a level of visual interest and appeal that contributes to the public realm. 

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