Designed to discreetly work in harmony with the surrounding environment, the unconventional architecture of this home frames different views of the St. Lawrence river, inviting the residents to fully experience changes in the weather.
This home’s owner has worked in the Cornwall region for over 20 years and used to commute daily from Montréal until his children left home. “We were lucky to find a nice location right on the river. Once we found it, we looked for an architect and everything went rather quickly. We immediately hit it off with Alain Carle, and the project went off without a hitch,” he recounts.
The couple had owned a lovely traditional home in the city and wanted a radically different style of house for their move to this Ontario peninsula. “We wanted something beautiful and modern that fit into the landscape. In the end, we gave the architect a list of our practical needs and basically trusted him to come up with the design.”
For Alain Carle, environmental characteristics always provide the starting point for the architecture. “The site is located on an artificial peninsula that was added to an existing island to manage water levels. It is very exposed to the wind and this constraint meant working to create a project that could act as a counterbalance to the wind,” explains the architect. As a result, the building includes large concrete walls complemented by metal elements that act as windbreaks. “There is a large protective wall at every door to the home. The house doesn’t really have a front and back side—it is like a sculpture on the landscape.” There are also interior courtyards that create microclimates, becoming focal points.
The landscape on the horizon is broken up into several fragments when one is inside. The idea is to completely blur the boundary between in and outdoors, and this objective is reinforced by the choice of a contemporary, understated interior design. The owners wanted an uncluttered look that would tie in with the flat landscape surrounded by water. This horizontal dominance runs through the entire project, and natural light filtered through the louvred skylights creates a play of light and shadow. The material language of glass, plain white walls, and the unobtrusive kitchen cabinets contrasts with darker elements made of black walnut, like the imposing bookshelf. In this elegantly simple world, everything is designed to be as minimal as possible to maintain the focus on the landscape.
Photos Adrien Williams