Private Residence and Guest House

ARCHITECT Saucier + Perrotte Architectes
LOCATION Mont-Tremblant, Quebec

This single-family residence and guesthouse is located near the ski hills of Mont-Tremblant in the Laurentian Mountain range about an hour’s drive north of Montreal. Overlooking a verdant mountain landscape and located on the edge of a traditional log house development, the house is uncompromising in its contemporary architectural expression, both reflecting modernity and local building traditions. The house’s three main volumes, dedicated to the three activities of its occupants–eating, sleeping and living–slide on one another along an east-west axis. Pierced obliquely by an interior stair, the superimposed volumes are aligned with the entrance-level pool. A translucent screened outdoor living room, typical of the region, projects into the woods at the point where the main volumes overlap, and emphasizes the sliding geometry of the project.

The residence is placed within a fold in the landscape, creating an intimate exterior space framed by the north façade of the house and a three-metre-high rock outcrop. Inserting the building into the forest resists the temptation to vie for a more conventional open setting and allows for several practical advantages in terms of exposure to the public realm, the sun and the wind.

Situated along the same horizontal plane as the entrance volume of the main house, the guesthouse is envisaged as a prism–formally analogous to the building blocks of the house–having slid westward, detaching from the main mass. Erosion, a process that naturally occurs in mountainous regions, seems to have caused the volumes to glide laterally, each out of sync with the other, yet altogether forming a practical and harmonious composition.

A deceptively simple manipulation of building blocks, the residence seeks out the infinite information from elements belonging to the site: its topography, rock formations, trees, and ground cover. The building surfaces respond to the specificity of the wooded site, where the verticality of the trees and tones of grey, brown, and green predominate. The north façade reflects this dense context through irregularly spaced, rough-cut wood strips. While providing a unique façade pattern, the positioning of these strips permits several partially hidden slit window openings. The south façade, which screens the sun to varying degrees, is completely open to forest panorama. The lateral wood slats on this face of the building form a continuous band of wall, soffit and roof deck. Roughness and a preference for the natural, in both the interior and exterior finishes, acknowledge the craft of local building trades and create an unexpected element of nature within an overall precise geometric form.

Openness is essential to appreciate the vastness of the surroundings. Luminous interior sub-volumes, translucent or opaque white, maintain the volumetric clarity of the project, even as they at times show traces of underlying wood grain. “Rooms” find themselves somewhere between flowing and compartmentalized, offering the occupants multipurpose or interpretive spaces. The formal movement of building elements is activated by the literal movement of people in space: whether approaching by car, descending the oblique stair, swinging the large sliding doors, or swimming lengths across the pool.

Bernardo Gómez-Pimienta: The architectural clarity of the plan and sections are enriched by the views of the landscape. It looks deceptively simple but has a complexity that starts with a deep understanding of construction.

Betsy Williamson: Here, the architects take the rustic vernacular to a level of abstraction that goes beyond composition and reimagines the possibility of a contemporary house in the landscape. The perversity of the screened-in porch as prop for the shifting volume above brings lightness and complexity to this dynamic and beautifully detailed project.

Client withheld
Architect Team Gilles Saucier (lead design architect), André
Perrotte, Anna Bendix, Guillaume Sasseville, Éric Majer, Laurence Lebeux, Trevor Davies, Vedanta Balbahadur
Structural Saïa Deslauriers Kadanoff et associés
Landscape Saucier + Perrotte architectes
Interiors Saucier + Perrotte architectes
Area 350 M2 (Main House); 125 M2 (Guest House)
Budget withheld
Completion 2008