Guided by the idea of creating a house that was both a refuge and a window onto the surrounding nature, the architect of this weekend home designed a project that strikes a balance between the traditional and the avant-garde.
Having been attracted to the beauty of the Laurentian landscape for over a decade, a couple who works in the field of design finally came across their ideal lot at a time when they were no longer even looking. The site met their top two requirements: be located on a lake and offer natural light and views in all four directions.
The owners then contacted architect Maxime Moreau of MXMA Architecture & Design: “We had known Maxime for a long time; I followed him in his practice when he created his firm and I think he is a very talented designer. I asked if he would like to work on our project with us. We had a very clear idea of what we wanted, but it turned out that the site was too narrow to accommodate what we had in mind. Maxime jumped in with both feet and agreed to an iterative collaborative design process, which is how we came up with the project that was actually built.”
After visiting the site in person, Moreau was able to develop a more concrete picture of the future residence. The narrowness of the lot inspired the idea of building a rectangular base on the ground floor to accommodate the common living spaces, topped by a cantilevered structure that seems to float in the air. The building has strategically located windows so the inside is constantly connected with the outside. Some offer wide panoramas, while smaller glassed openings let in sunlight through the dense branches of conifers. Thanks to the play of contrasts between light and dark, the inhabitants feel as if they are being drawn into the lake and forest or, on the contrary, as if they have a close-up view of nature’s elements.
This contrasting effect is repeated throughout the home, extending to the interior design. The architect played with the composition of volumes to create surprise areas, ensuring that the rooms, though arranged in an open concept, are only revealed as one ventures further into the house. An example of this is the dark wood module in front of the staircase. It adds a visual rhythm to the space by creating a partial obstruction, in addition to housing a bathroom.
“This home employs a very contemporary architectural language. The outside appears very sleek, because there is no overhang, but at the same time, the sloped roof is quite traditional,” explains the founding architect of the firm MXMA Architecture & Design. In addition, the black exterior cladding contrasts with the light wood used inside. Polished concrete and stone finishes were chosen to meet the homeowners’ desire for natural, noble materials. “In the end, the idea was to ensure that the family felt enveloped in a warm, relaxing cocoon, far from their day-to-day urban environment,” notes Moreau.