Northern Exposure: A Modern Mountain Chalet in Quebec
Come winter, the Laurentian Mountains, a jagged range in Quebec, are blanketed in powdery snow, making them a prime skiing destination. It’s there, in the rural township of La Conception, that a Montreal couple chose to build a year-round chalet for themselves and their two young children. The pair had only two requests: a calm, contemplative atmosphere and a spa. Marie Claude Hamelin and Loukas Yiacouvakis, principals of Yiacouvakis Hamelin, Architectes, designed a mountain retreat that’s as meditative as a monastery with a minimalist’s attention to detail. Although the house is only 1,300 square feet, the spare palette of materials and colors makes it feel expansive.
A traditional wooden toboggan inspired the structure’s sloping shape as well as its siding of white cedar planks. (For variation, one section is clad in CorTen steel.) In summer, sliding doors open the house to the 11⁄4 acre timbered property. Interior walls and the ceiling are paneled in horizontal and vertical strips of untreated cedar, evoking a scandinavian spa. Flooring throughout is mostly white oak. In the living area, a suspended hearth provides a focal point for après-ski gatherings. The adjacent open kitchen is outfitted with custom maple cabinetry—garage door panels craftily concealing appliances— and countertops of stainless steel and ipe.
The architects didn’t skimp on the requested spa amentities. Although the cedar deck’s sunken hottub is used even in the snowiest months, it is understudied by the bathroom’s free standing soaking tub. And while most saunas are boxy and claustrophobic, this version offers a floor to ceiling nature view for as many as four occupants. There’s no doubt the sight of northern wildlife passing silently among the trees answers the call for contemplative calm.
Construction CYG: Woodwork.