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Get to Know: Lebel & Bouliane

Lebel & Bouliane Architectural Studio - Relmar House

In 2019, Designlines introduced its inaugural DL Designer of the Year competition and entries poured in. We were blown away by the quality of the submissions but alas, there could be only one winner and it was Lebel & Bouliane. We crowned this architectural design studio for many reasons, one being that its playful, aspect-altering experimentation with dimension never fails to delight. Let’s get to know the studio a little better by speaking directly with co-founder Natasha Lebel.

Lebel & Bouliane Architectural Studio - Relmar House
Step inside the studio’s Relmar project which features captivating stone-clad light wells and sculptural age-in-place amenities. Photo (plus lead image) by Bob Gundu.

Designlines: Where did the principals previously work and/or go to school? When did you start your practice and why?

Natasha Lebel: Luc and I are both graduates from the University of Waterloo School of Architecture. Together we founded the firm in 2010. Luc came from a career as project architect at Teeple Architects and worked full-time at Lebel & Bouliane from the onset. I was a VP with a multi-national manufacturer, practicing as a consultant in business strategy and innovation for three years as the studio built a critical mass of clients and projects. 

Designlines: Is the studio architecture or interior design-based? What accreditations do the principals have?

Natasha Lebel: The studio is a licensed architectural practice.

Bensimon Byrne and OneMethod office space
Lebel & Bouliane (with Mazen Studio) appointed the 4,650-square-metre Bensimon Byrne and OneMethod office space with catwalks, indoor streets and a basketball court. Photo by Adrian Williams.

Designlines: What is the studio’s focus?

Natasha Lebel: We take commissions that (re)define and elevate our clients’ social culture. Our portfolio spans residential, institutional and commercial work: from houses to libraries, from student buildings to creative agencies and tech companies. Our firm designs and oversees new construction and additions, we design new interiors and interior renovations. We also work extensively on adaptive re-use projects.

Designlines: What are some of the studio’s key strengths and trademarks?

Natasha Lebel: In our practice, we sculpt space to create social moments (whether public or within the intimacy of a home) and adapt a building’s functionality to the users. The result: spaces that function organically by harvesting light and interconnecting and layering spaces logically from public to private. Our language is squarely modern and we are experienced in complex construction.

Lebel & Bouliane Architectural Studio - William Doo Theatre at UofT
Lebel & Bouliane renovated the William Doo Theatre at UofT’s New College as well as the surrounding student lounges. Photo by Doublespace Photography.

Designlines: Who are some of your key collaborators?

Natasha Lebel: We see ourselves as an orchestrator of industry professionals and constructors to build a co-created, unified vision. We work with a large range of consultants, from planners to arborists, lighting designers, and engineers to cost consultants: their input is critical to our decision-making. When it comes to execution of the design, the quality and level of engagement of our builders is critical to the quality of the architecture and the clients’ experience.

Lebel & Bouliane Architectural Studio - Saintfield house
Rendering of Lebel & Bouliane’s Saintfield house, under construction in Toronto.

Designlines: What are some of the remarkable features or innovations of some favourite past projects? And projects do you have on the go now?

Natasha Lebel: Our residential new-builds and additions are fundamental to our creative practice: they offer freedom to experiment with form, materiality, light and landscape. These houses are designed for clients who have both vision and a clear sense of self, and together we learn and grow: this part of our practice is really about process.

We’ve started design on two new custom homes. We also broke ground on two houses in the fall: one in the Bridlepath (Saintfield house) and one in Osler (Collingwood house), and we look forward to completing our largest residential project on the Scarborough Bluffs (Meadowcliffe house) this year.

If you are a proof-is-in-the-pudding type of person, see more of Lebel & Bouliane’s work here:

Categories: Architect