Sustainable Timber Design Powers SmartMill’s New Canadian HQ

Glued-Laminated timber defines the aesthetics of SmartMill's new Office

Tue 23 May 23


Local studio Atelier Guy Architects has completed an all-timber office and factory for engineering firm SmartMill in Lévis, Quebec.

The 2,000 square metre reflects the products and services of the client, a Quebec wood products manufacturer. It has a structure made with glued-laminated columns and floor plates.

The building is divided into two columns – a two-storey administration complex and an adjoining rectangular workshop. (Photo credit: Dezeen)

Divided into a two-story administrative pavilion and a rectangular workshop, the facility’s architecture is as functional as it is aesthetic.

The design firm described their approach to Dezeen: “The architectural design was centred around an organic inner courtyard [that] breaks up the volume and creates a strong connection between the interior and the exterior.”

This design choice resulted in bright, open spaces that seamlessly blend the indoors with nature and the outdoors. The strategic use of wood throughout the building mirrors the client’s values and echoes the shared sustainable vision between the client and the studio.

This innovative project is the brainchild of Atelier Guy Architects )Image credit: Dezeen)

As the design team elaborated, “The use of wood in most parts of the building was a design choice that reflects the client and our firm’s combined vision and desire to promote the use of local timber and build sustainably.”

Natural light permeates the building through transparent walls (Image credit: Dezeen)

Clad in low-maintenance Eastern white cedar sourced locally, the administrative building adds texture to the facility’s façade with its combination of streamlined vertical planks and board and batten siding.

A landscaped courtyard with curved internal corners, transparent walls, and a central architectural staircase punctuates the interior of the building.

The structure, as the studio pointed out, “Consists of three large triangulated sections of glued-laminated timber elements, offering a column-free span, allowing for great flexibility in the layout.” The interior, characterized by polished concrete floors with exposed aggregates and white walls, allows the timber structure to be the focal point.

The factory space showcases the continuous engineered timber structure (Image credit: Dezeen)

The design extends the engineered timber structure into the single-story factory space, marked by an arched roof composed of long, curved glued-laminated timber trusses. This design provides an uninterrupted 22-meter span across the production floor, creating an environment that the studio described as having “high ceilings capable of accommodating two overhead cranes required for operations.”

The studio emphasized the benefits of this design, saying, “The simplicity of the timber roof and the integration of a wide horizontal window at the top of the workshop contribute to the remarkable quality of the work environment.” Beyond the building, sustainability is also evident in the site’s landscaping with conifers, northern fruit plants, and river stone draining strips for effective stormwater management.


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