Awards of Excellence 2004 – Lac Suprieur Residence

Lac Suprieur, Mont-Tremblant, Quebec

Saucier + Perrotte architectes

The steep wooded site of this single-family residence overlooks the Laurentian landscape of Lac Suprieur in Mont-Tremblant on the edge of a traditional log house development, and was sold to the owners on the condition that their future home–despite the owners’ explicit interest in contemporary architecture–be congruous with the surrounding development. Obvious interpretations of this congruity may have been challenged in this project, but with uncompromising results.

The project comprises three bedrooms, various living areas, a sauna, a transformable guest room/rec room, an outdoor swimming pool and, typical of the region’s cottages, a screened outdoor living room. Its generating form is composed of three stacked volumes sliding past one another, pierced obliquely by an interior stair. In discreetly placing the residence within a fold in the landscape, the building is inserted within rather than perched onto the land. This manoeuvre of inserting a building into a minimally cleared forested site resists the obvious gesture of vying for the conventional open view of cottage country, while offering a number of practical advantages in terms of privacy and exposure to sun and wind. A deceptively simple assemblage of building blocks, this residence incorporates site-specific elements: topography, rock formations, trees, and ground cover. These references indicate a gradual transition from the local building traditions of the area (the log house) towards the architectural language of this residence in particular, translated via chromatic and textural exploration.

The building surfaces respond to the specificity of the wooded site, where verticality and tones of grey, brown and green predominate. The north faade reflects this panorama, with rough-cut wood posts spaced erratically, permitting several vertical slit window openings in the wood slat cladding. By contrast, the south faade is completely glazed and open to the forest wall, the intensity of the sun mitigated by the density of trees. The metallic screened outdoor living space projects into the woods from the slot created by the building’s three main shifting volumes, emphasizing the overall sliding geometry of the project. The rough natural finishes on the interior and exterior acknowledge the basic tolerances of local building trades, and create a contrasting and rustic textural quality to the overall precision of the form.

Interior openness is essential to this project. Luminous interior sub-volumes are translucent or opaque white occasionally accented with natural wood grain, maintaining the overall volumetric clarity of the project. Rooms are somewhere between compartmentalized and flowing, transforming a typical single-family house program into interlocking multi-purpose spaces. The project is activated by the movement of people toward and throughout the building: approaching by car, descending the stair, moving through sliding doors, and swimming across the pool.

Monteyne: The expressed attempt to harmonize traditional log home construction with contemporary architecture has motivated a compositional strategy of sliding volumes and intersecting circulation combined with site-sensitive material choices. Hopefully, this formally inventive project will be realized with the same verve and minimum compromise, as much of its impact will depend on the execution of its construction.

Shnier: This house design remains faithful to its basic abstract gesture, with perhaps the only curious gesture being the angling of a stair in plan–is this really necessary? Nonetheless, its skill is in its ability to capture an expression that is at once unabashedly modern, whilst tipping its hat to a shadow of the vernacular. Through its interpretive use of materials and siting, it is a project both of and for its site.

Yarinsky: The architecture is a frame for the experience of the site and a frame for the life contained within.

Client: withheld

Architect team: Anna Bendix, Laurence Le Beux, Eric Majer, Guillaume Sasseville, Gilles Saucier

Structural: Saia, Deslaurier, Kadanoff et associs

Contractor: Codevco

Area: 3,357 ft2

Budget: withheld

Completion: spring 2005