Create a building that would have a strong connection with its natural environment but also emotionally stimulating living spaces and striking architectural design: this was the daunting objective behind this house tucked away in the forest-clad Laurentians, an all-season mountain resort location north of Montreal, Canada.
Architects Marie-Claude Hamelin and Loukas Yiacouvakis and their co-workers at practice yh2 have ensured the building blends with its surrounds by placing it directly on the ground and developing it linearly to follow the lay of the land. The residence comprises three main components for as many functional areas. The two-level entrance also houses the secondary bedrooms. The central living-area, the pivotal centre of the whole house, has an elegant elliptical-shaped fireplace. The interior flows out onto a recessed terrace paved with the same burnished wood slats as its interior counterpart from which it is almost imperceptibly divided by a glass wall membrane. The covered terrace seems to reach out to the nearby forest that practically comes up to the house.
The third component of the linear floor plan is given over to the master bedroom. Although secluded, this section is nonetheless open to the outside, its full-height glazed walls giving onto a clearing in the adjacent forest. The interior décor is assertive: decisive materials and strong colours, plastered ceilings, wooden plank flooring and orange-coloured wall sections. The north-east outer wall has rusty coloured slab cladding.
The house fits into its forest setting, an element mediating between earth, vegetation and sky. The natural features all around concur with the real and perceived confines of the house to define the sumptuous, double-fronted architecture. The north-east frontage is a long wall of cor-ten steel thrusting forward like a rust-coloured metal rostrum, or cutwater, as if ploughing an oblique path through space. This straight façade is the unifying element of the articulated volumes making up the house, and a frame for the recessed terrace. It also provides a protected transitional area between building and outdoors on a level with the master bedroom.
Viewed from the opposite side, the building takes on a completely new aspect, becoming three, staggered height, parallelepiped volumes firmly planted on the ground and connected to each other by lower-height glass passageways. As well as providing well-lit connections between the building segments, these passageways serve to distinguish clearly the separate functional areas. The black wooden plank cladding further underlines the sequential character of the construction. The resultant Geomety in Black aptly sums up the blend of the man-made and the natural achieved by this striking house.