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    Ivy Studio converts historic bank building into offices for Montreal ad agency

    The offices that Montreal’s Ivy Studio has designed for digital advertising agency Cardigan include a mesh-wrapped mezzanine and a “futuristic” basement within a former bank building.

    For Cardigan’s expanding team, Ivy Studio has renovated a stone building that was built as a bank in 1907, in the Rosemont area of Montreal.
    Ivy Studio inserted a steel mesh mezzanine inside the historic bank building to provide additional spaceThe structure has had many uses, including most recently a religious establishment, and boasts plenty of historic architectural details.
    While the upper floor is a residential condo, Cardigan occupies 1,250 square feet (116 square metres) across the ground and basement levels – spaces with very different ceiling heights and light conditions.
    The mesh was painted white to accentuate the bright and airy feel in the office space”One of the main challenges of working with the building was the contrasting ceiling heights between each floor,” said Ivy Studio. “This made the spacial blocking very important at the start of the project.”

    To benefit from the 16.5 foot (5 metres) clearance and abundance of natural light, all the workstations are positioned on the ground level.
    Under the mezzanine sit multiple phone booths and meeting roomsHowever, the floor plate was not sufficient to accommodate all 25 employees as well as meeting rooms, so the studio took advantage of the ceiling height and added a mezzanine.
    This addition was placed in a corner to avoid blocking the arched windows, and was painted entirely white to accentuate the bright and airy atmosphere of the space.
    During the renovation, the building’s large arched windows were fully uncovered to let in more lightThe structure is made from perforated steel mesh, allowing light to enter the phone booths and meeting rooms tucked underneath, and a gap was left between the mesh and the glass partitions behind to make space for planters.
    Additional workstations are located on top of the mezzanine, which is curved at its corner. “The newly-built mezzanine structure interprets the curves of the existing space without competing with them,” Ivy Studio said.

    Ivy Studio populates MAD Creative Hub with pink and purple elements

    To let even more light in, the boarded window arches were reopened to their original form, while the parquet flooring was replaced with natural oak to retain the warmth.
    Meanwhile, in the basement, low ceiling heights and a lack of windows called for an entirely contrasting strategy.
    “It is a different universe of its own,” said Ivy Studio, which took a “futuristic, in your face” approach to the sub-grade space.
    In the windowless basement, a contrasting “futuristic” aesthetic was chosenThis level accommodates the bathrooms, kitchen, lounge and storage, and features a mix of plastered ceilings, ceramic walls and epoxy floors.
    In the kitchen, all of the surfaces are coloured baby blue, while the adjacent bathroom block is completely grey.
    The spaces are colour-blocked to heighten their visual impactAcross the kitchen island, a circular mirror faces an opening that’s exactly the same shape and leads into a room painted in orange.
    “The spaces are all monochromatic, to increase the visual impact of their intense colors but also help camouflage the imperfections of the existing building,” said Ivy Studio.
    Baby blue and stainless steel cover the kitchenThe office’s levels are linked by two staircases: an older one made from wood and a newer minimal design that emerges from under an arched portico.
    Both are painted navy blue and are intended to reflect Cardigan’s contradicting “hard-working yet playful values”.
    The adjacent bathroom is executed entirely in greyIvy Studio’s portfolio of projects in its home city spans from workspaces and restaurants, to a spinning studio and a dry cleaners.
    Recently completed interiors by the firm include a creative hub populated with pink and purple elements, and a renovated eatery that was damaged in a fire.
    The photography is by Alex Lesage.
    Project credits:
    Design and architecture: Ivy StudioConstruction: Group Manovra

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    MRDK uses arches and mosaics for Ciele Athletics store in Montreal

    Rounded walls and archways create a flow through this Montreal boutique, designed by local studio MRDK for Canadian sportswear brand Ciele Athletics.

    The first boutique for Ciele, which sells technical headwear and apparel for running, opened in April 2023 on Notre-Dame Street in Montreal – the brand’s hometown.
    Black and white mosaic tiles form a pattern based on Ciele’s apparel at the entrance to the storeThe 3,000-square-foot (279-square-metre) flagship store was designed by MRDK to be as much a boutique as a community space for runners to meet and socialise.
    Along the narrow entryway, flooring comprises black and white mosaic tiles that form a graphic pattern based on select items of the brand’s apparel.
    Visitors are lead past a quartet of mannequins to a community lounge areaAscending four steps or a ramp leads visitors past a large white-tiled planter, then a display of mannequins lined up in front of a brick wall.

    A lounge area at the end is designated for gathering and conversation, offering “anyone with an interest in movement and connection a chance to experience running and the many facets of its dynamic community through regular meet-ups and events”, said MRDK.
    Access to the main retail space is via an archway that punctures a dark green partitionAccess to the main retail space is through an archway with rounded corners that punctures a deep, dark green partition.
    “An arched wall gracefully separates the more public community area from the rest of the store, creating a sense of intrigue and inviting exploration,” MRDK said.
    The green hue continues behind the fluted white service counterOther similar openings in this spatial divider are used to display clothing on single or double-stacked rails.
    The same forest green shade continues on the wall behind the service counter, which is fronted by a white fluted panel and includes a small glass vitrine set into its top.
    Lime plaster covers the angled walls, which feature bull-nose edges that soften their appearanceHerringbone white oak parquet floors are laid wall to wall, running beneath a low central island that is designed to be broken apart and moved around the store depending on merchandising needs.
    A textured lime plaster finish was applied to the walls, wrapping around the bull-nosed corners that soften the angles created by the offset displays.

    MRDK creates a “journey through nature” at Attitude boutique in Montreal

    “The play of light and shadows on these textured surfaces creates a sense of dynamism, accentuating the uniqueness of the space,” said MRDK.
    In one corner, a 12-foot-tall (3.7-metre) shelving system presents Ciele’s range of hats on cork mannequin heads.
    A tall shelving system displays Ciele’s hat collectionFitting rooms at the back of the store are kept minimal, with green velvet curtain draped behind the arched openings to the cubicles.
    “The thoughtful combination of materials, textures, and colours creates an atmosphere that seamlessly blends modernity with a touch of timeless elegance,” said MRDK.
    The fitting rooms are kept minimalist and feature green velvet curtainsFormerly known as Ménard Dworkind, the studio was founded by Guillaume Ménard and David Dworkind, and has completed a variety of retail spaces in Montreal and beyond.
    Most recently, these have included a store for plastic-free beauty brand Attitude.
    The photography is by David Dworkind and Alex Lesage.
    Project credits:
    Team: David Dworkind, Benjamin Lavoie LarocheContractor: Groupe ManovraCeramic floor tile: DaltileLighting: SistemaluxLime plaster: VenosaWood profiles: Brenlo

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    Mason Studio reimagines its Toronto workspace “for the greater good”

    Toronto interiors firm Mason Studio has redesigned its offices to offer community programming like exhibitions, events and other public-facing activities.

    Mason Studio relaunched its workspace as a new hybrid office and cultural hub to serve “the greater good” during the DesignTO festival earlier this year.
    Mason Studio has redesigned its two-storey office building to serve as both a workspace and a cultural community hubAs well as an office for the studio’s team members, the building in Pelham Park now operates as a gallery space, community library, fabrication hub, experimentation space for non-profits and a coffee bar to name a few.
    “Today’s office is no longer just a place for work, but rather a space for conversation and discourse, a space for inspiration and rejuvenation, and a space for community to get involved, and gather and share knowledge,” said the team.
    The space hosts a variety of exhibitions, installations and events, including An Optimistic Future pictured hereThe two-storey, industrial style building is largely decorated white, with curtains used to divide the various spaces and functions.

    A double-height atrium can house artworks and installations, which are able to be suspended from the ceiling beams.
    A materials library is open to local architects and designersAmong the areas within the building is a plant-filled study garden upstairs, where stools and chairs are placed around mossy tables that sprout foliage from their centres.
    “The greenery and natural elements of the garden create a sense of tranquility, which helps reduce stress and improve overall well-being,” said Mason Studio.
    The study garden allows team and community members to work and read among the greeneryAn open materials library can be utilised by local architects and designers, and a “give-one-take-one” book library is open to all community members.
    Mason Studio also hosts storytime sessions for the children of their team and other community members. “This experiment was a reminder of how vital play is as a tool to socialize, learn and focus — even in the workplace,” the team said.
    White curtains are used to divide the building’s various functions and areasDuring the annual Toronto design festival DesignTO, Mason Studio hosted a series of installations and activations to create a space where visitors “could experience an optimistic vision of the future”.
    For example, a temporary pay-what-you-want cafe donated any funds collected to local non-profit organisations.

    Mason Studio designs Kimpton Saint George hotel as “homage to Toronto”

    “These types of new amenities not only stimulate local economies but also contribute to the cultural vitality of the community,” said Mason Studio.
    The inaugural art installation in The Gallery at Mason Studio, a collaborative effort named Full Moon Reflected On The Ocean At 01:34, comprised a giant glowing orb that was reflected on sheets of fan-blown mylar fabric.
    A community library and workspace is offered as a resourceIn March 2023, the studio partnered with Toronto-based contemporary art gallery Cooper Cole Gallery to present works by emerging BIPOC and marginalised artists in the space.
    Then in April, The Gallery at Mason Studio hosted Canadian artist Kadrah Mensah’s exhibition titled Surely, You’re Joking, which included video, sculpture, and installations intended to normalise digital body manipulation.
    The Gallery at Mason Studio’s inaugural installation comprised a large glowing sphere reflected in fan-blown mylar sheets belowMason Studio was founded over a decade ago by Stanley Sun and Ashley Rumsey, who have since completed projects that range from a cloud-like installation to the interiors of the Kimpton Saint George hotel.
    The most recent edition of DesignTO, Toronto’s citywide celebration of design, took place from 20-29 January 2023. Find more design events, talks and installations on the Dezeen Events Guide.
    The photography is by Scott Norsworthy.

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    Studio North adds plywood barrel vaults to Business & Pleasure bar in Calgary

    A barrel-vaulted ceiling covers this cosy cocktail bar in Calgary, Alberta which locally based Studio North designed as a contemporary take on a speakeasy.

    Business & Pleasure is tucked away between historic brick buildings on a back lane in the Canadian city’s Inglewood neighbourhood, just a few blocks from Studio North’s office space.
    A vaulted plywood ceiling contrasts with the black interior of the bar”The location and scale of the Business & Pleasure bar space immediately reference visions of the iconically intimate and secluded speakeasy from last century,” said lead designers Damon Hayes Couture and Hayden Pattullo.
    “However, this transformation sought to recreate the speakeasy’s quaint and classic qualities using contemporary methods of parametric design, digital fabrication, and material experimentation.”
    The fir plywood is CNC cut to allow it to bendHidden at the back of a cafe, Studio North’s take on prohibition-era drinking establishments features a dark interior, with many of the furniture pieces and surfaces in black.

    In contrast, fir plywood is shaped into barrel vaults of different widths that run the length of the narrow 350-square-foot (32.5-square-metre) space.
    Vaults of different widths run the length the ceilingThe material is kerfed to allow it to bend, forming a cut-out pattern that adds a translucent quality to the wood.
    “Like clouds, the geometry and pattern vary slightly throughout the room to create unique areas and experiences of moving through it,” said Studio North.
    Paper lanterns hang from the wood vaults, which are suspended from steel ribsThe vaults are suspended from a series of steel ribs, and some panels are held in place with magnets – a system that Studio North prototyped at 1:1 scale and built in-house.
    Parametric modelling and computer numerically controlled (CNC) cutting were used to produce the desired effect.

    Frank Architecture recalls 1960s glamour at Major Tom bar in Calgary

    “The pattern of the ceiling kerfing changes using a parametric image map to add and subtract bridge tabs, creating more grid interruption around the seated areas,” the designers said.
    In places, the plywood extends down from the ceiling onto the walls, forming panels that touch the tabletops and shelving in recesses.
    A custom black barn door separates the bar from a cafe at the frontThe same material forms a custom barn door separating the cafe from the bar, which is painted black and allows guests a peek at the back space through the thin vertical gaps.
    Globe-shaped paper lanterns hand from the ceiling to bathe the space in a warm, ambient glow.
    The bar is designed to evoke speakeasies from a century agoArtworks and a selection of vintage items are displayed on the walls and shelves, connecting the contemporary interior to the heyday of speakeasies.
    Studio North is a design-build studio that more commonly works on residential projects, such as a laneway house in Calgary that the team outfitted with a dog nook and a fireman’s pole.
    The photography is by Hayden Pattullo and Damon Hayes Couture.

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    Vives St-Laurent creates theatrical children’s boutique in Mont-Tremblant ski resort

    Harnessing soft colours and gentle curves, interior design studio Vives St-Laurent has completed a shop for children’s boutique Billie Le Kid in Mont-Tremblant – a Canadian ski resort known for its colourful architecture.

    Following on from Billie Le Kid’s first store in Montreal, the brand brought in Vives St-Laurent to create a new outpost that captured the spirit of the brand while reflecting its location.
    Vives St-Laurent designed the interiors for Billie Le Kid’s Mont-Tremblant boutiqueIts storefront was designed to resemble a theatre, showcasing the brand’s wholesome edit of children’s clothes, toys and books.
    Custom-made awnings recall the idea of a general store, while the front was repainted in a vibrant blue-on-blue palette to reflect Mont-Tremblant’s colourful charter.
    Painted tongue-and-groove panelling adds a touch of nostalgiaReferencing the facade, arched openings throughout the boutique bring a whimsical touch to the transitions between different sections.

    Rounded corners were used to soften the edges of the display cabinets, adding character and creating a playful and welcoming atmosphere.
    Integrated display cabinets provide plenty of storageBianco Carrara marble was used on top of the checkout counter to convey a sense of timeless luxury, while moss-coloured velvet changing room curtains reference the theatre concept and bring softness and tactility to the space.
    The polished concrete floor was a practical choice, as the low-maintenance material allows skiers to visit the store in their ski boots.
    Bianco Carrara marble covers the store’s counterPainted tongue-and-groove panelling was added to give the boutique a touch of nostalgia.
    “We combined classic and contemporary materials to create a harmonious yet unique ambience,” Vives St-Laurent’s interior designer Léa Courtadon told Dezeen.
    Courtadon said she chose the store’s calming colour palette of stone beige and sage green to create “a whimsical mood that recalls the playful world of childhood while maintaining sophistication and ensuring the products stand out”.

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    Sturdy vintage Canadian furniture was chosen to draw on the idea of the general store and family home. Long wooden refectory tables were repurposed as displays for toys and clothing, adding visual interest while paying homage to the brand’s Canadian heritage.
    A row of vintage frilled-glass pendant lights creates a feature above the counter.
    “The lamps’ rippled globes resemble ballerina tutus, adding a delicate touch to the overall design,” Courtadon said.
    Rounded corners give the storage units a playful edgeIn contrast, the main lighting system with its matt white finish was chosen to blend seamlessly with the store’s high ceiling. The railing system allows for precise positioning to highlight different items within the display cabinets.
    Vives St-Laurent used baskets for storage to contribute to the nostalgic, homespun aesthetic as well as offering a practical way to store and display plush toys.
    Changing rooms are hidden behind velvet curtains”They create an impression of abundance and allow children to interact with the toys, promoting a sense of independence and autonomy,” said Courtadon. “It all contributes to a playful and engaging atmosphere that’s ideal for a kids’ store.”
    Since its founding in 2018, Vives St-Laurent has completed a range of projects across Canada. Among them is a tactile home in Montreal with a grey-heavy colour scheme.
    The photography is by Alex Lesage.

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    Studio Vaaro reconfigures House M using built-in storage volumes

    For the renovation of a house in Toronto’s West End, local firm Studio Vaaro added minimally detailed millwork to form kitchen cabinetry, the staircase and a feature bookcase in the living room.

    Studio Vaaro’s overhaul of House M, a three-storey detached property that had been renovated and extended multiple times over the years, involved reconfiguring the layout to remove the awkward subdivided spaces.
    The ground floor of House M is partitioned by storage volumes laid out in a diamond formation”Our clients were a professional couple with two young children, who were looking for flexible and resilient spaces that could accommodate their home offices, overnight guests, and the changing needs of their growing children,” said the studio.
    “We, therefore, developed a spatial concept based on ‘functional volumes’, in which well-proportioned spaces are partitioned by blocks of storage and service functions.”
    The pale blue-grey volumes provide additional storage space for the kitchenThese built-in storage blocks partially partition four rooms on the ground floor while keeping an open flow between them.

    Laid out in a diamond formation, all are coloured pale blue-grey to highlight their function against the otherwise white walls.
    In the kitchen, oak cabinetry contrasts with the marble countertops”The large amount of built-in storage ensures the rooms themselves are free of clutter and ready for use,” said Studio Vaaro. “In line with the family’s personalities, colour and playful details abound.”
    In the entryway is a coat closet that hides the view of the living room behind, where an oak bookcase sat atop a teal powder-coated fireplace covers almost an entire wall.
    Bleachers are built into the oak staircase, offering a display area or extra seatingA powder room is placed between this space and the kitchen, also forming additional cabinet and counter space within its volume.
    Further kitchen storage sits in front of the dining room, and another closet is tucked under the doglegging staircase.
    On the first floor, the bedrooms are accessed through deep portal doorways”A ‘mixing bowl’ at the centre of the plan, at the base of the stairs, visually and physically connects all four spaces,” the studio said.
    Both the entry and the dining room volumes are pulled away from the home’s exterior walls, allowing additional views between rooms.
    The portals are coloured dusty pink and the kids rooms are also colourfulThe remaining built-in furniture is oak to match the flooring that runs throughout, including kitchen millwork and the staircase, which incorporates oversized bleachers for displaying kids’ artwork or creating extra seating during a party.
    A white metal “picket” guardrail, softened with rounded details, allows light to pass down from the upper levels.

    Long wooden cabinet runs through slender Borden house by StudioAC

    On the first floor, two parallel volumes separate the children’s rooms at the front of the house and the primary suite at the back from the central corridor.
    These create both storage for the rooms, and deep doorway portals that are highlighted in dusty pink.
    Skylights in the stepped angled roofs bring extra light into rooms at the rear, including the primary bathroomCarefully considered details include recesses for the door handles, allowing the doors to open the full 90 degrees without banging into the wall.
    Work and study spaces in the attic are minimally furnished, though feature built-in desks that step up to form shelves behind.
    Study spaces in the attic also feature built-in furnitureSkylights in the stepped, angled roof planes on all three floors bring extra light into the dining room, primary bathroom, and the stairwell.
    Other Toronto homes that have undergone extensive renovations to make them better suited for their occupants include a 14-foot-wide house where pale woodwork forms storage to make more space, and another “disguised as a gallery” – both designed by StudioAC.
    The photography is by Scott Norsworthy.
    Project credits:
    Team: Aleris Rodgers, Francesco Valente-Gorjup, Shengjie Qiu.

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    MRDK creates a “journey through nature” at Attitude boutique in Montreal

    Blocks of granite among planted beds are used to display plastic-free beauty products at this Montreal store, designed by local architecture firm MRDK.

    MRDK, also known as Ménard Dworkind, designed the interiors of the Attitude boutique to reflect the sustainable focus of the cosmetics for sale.
    Planted beds are surrounded by a raised ceramic floor at the Attitude store”From the moment you step inside, the design of the space reflects their commitment to sustainability and a connection to nature,” said the studio.
    Located on Saint Denis Street in the Plateau Mont-Royal neighbourhood, the 1,000-square-foot (93-square-metre) shop is laid out to evoke a “journey through nature” according to MRDK.
    A large granite block at the centre has two sinks carved into its topPlanted beds in the store window and around the space overspill with greenery, and a raised ceramic floor creates the impression of traversing a boardwalk between them.

    “This subtle elevation change immediately transports you into a new space, a forest floor full of life and colour,” MRDK said.
    The brand’s plastic-free beauty products are display on oak shelves that emerge from the greeneryChunks of granite are used as pedestals for displaying products in the window, while a much larger block in the centre has a pair of sinks carved into its flat top.
    “The boulder-like shape and texture of the island suggest a natural element, as if it has been carved by the forces of nature over time,” said MRDK.

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    “This centerpiece perfectly complements the natural theme of the space, giving customers the sense of being in a nature surrounded by rock formations.”
    The majority of Attitude’s products are presented on white oak shelves that emerge from the plant beds on both sides of the store.
    The raised floor is designed to create a boardwalk between the planted bedsSuspended on white poles and backed by fritted glass, these shelves match the rectangular cashier’s desk at the back, into which the brand’s name is hewn.
    There’s also a refill station that customers can use to replenish the aluminium bottles, further promoting sustainability.
    Smaller blocks of granite are used as plinths to showcase the products in the storefrontMRDK was founded by partners Guillaume Ménard and David Dworkind in 2010, and has completed a wide variety of projects in and around Montreal.
    These include a 1970s-themes pizza restaurant, a colossal Chinese brasserie and a wine bar that takes cues from bottle labels, as well as a renovated 1980s home and a cedar-clad hideaway.
    The photography is by David Dworkind.
    Project credits:
    Architecture: MRDKTeam: David Dworkind, Benjamin Lavoie LarocheContractor: Groupe STLC

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    Superkül renovates reading room at Toronto's brutalist Robarts Library

    Canadian studio Superkül has updated the reading room at the University of Toronto’s Robarts Library, a notable example of brutalist architecture.

    The project involved renovating the cavernous concrete space on the building’s fourth floor, as part of the university’s larger initiative to revitalise the Robarts Library, which Superkül described as “one of North America’s most significant examples of brutalist architecture”.
    The Brutalist concrete Robarts Library was built in 1973Completed in 1973, the John P Robarts Research Library was designed by local architecture studio Mathers & Haldenby.
    It is both the largest individual library at the University of Toronto and the largest academic library building in Canada.
    Superkül updated the spaces to better serve contemporary learning needsAs an important facility for students and faculty, the reading and study spaces required upgrades to meet contemporary learning styles and equipment, while remaining respectful to the heritage-listed architecture.

    The project also needed to connect the original brutalist structure with the adjacent Robarts Common extension, completed by Diamond Schmitt Architects in September 2022.
    A variety of individual study stations were added to the double-height space”We were tasked with an ambitious goal: to convert the space into a superior contemporary environment for quiet study, collaboration, and digital scholarship in a manner that complements the building’s exalted architectural language and supports accessibility, diversity, and wellness,” said Superkül.
    Spread throughout the 20,300-square-foot (1,886-square-metre), double-height space are individual study areas, new digital stations, consultation rooms and two light therapy zones.
    Natural materials were chosen to bring warmth to the concrete buildingParticular attention was paid to accessibility, through the addition of inclusive study spots that allow users to adjust desk heights, seating configurations and lighting for their needs.
    “We also emphasised clear sightlines and intuitive wayfinding in a symmetrical layout to promote easy navigation,” said Superkül.

    Upgrades to historic Toronto university building include an elevator clad in copper scales

    The studio worked with a team of acoustic specialists to create a sound-dampening system using perforated wood and metal panelling, designed to blend in with the interior architecture.
    This scheme allows communal study groups to converse without disturbing other students.
    Particular attention was paid to accessibility, through the addition of inclusive study spotsFor the new elements, a variety of natural materials were chosen to add warmth to the concrete building, including custom-designed bronze screens and details that play on existing motifs.
    “To honour the distinctive geometry and materiality that make Robarts Library such a prodigious icon, we hewed closely to an overarching objective: create a robust and respectful design that honours the existing architecture and complements the library’s other spaces,” the studio said.
    An acoustic-dampening system was created to prevent communal study sessions distracting from quiet workAlso at the University of Toronto, studios Kohn Shnier and ERA Architects recently renovated the historic University College building to make it more accessible.
    Superkül’s previous projects have included an all-white vacation home in the Ontario countryside.
    The photography is by Doublespace.
    Project credits:
    Architect: SuperkülStructural engineer: EntuitiveMechanical and electrical engineer: HH AngusAcoustics: AercousticsCost: Marshall & MurrayCode and safety: LRI

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