Quebec home by MU Architecture responds to steep and rocky topography

This countryside dwelling by Canadian studio MU Architecture consists of rectilinear volumes that step up a hillside, with facades clad in stone and cedar.

The Estrade Residence is located in St-Adolphe d’Howard, a village in the scenic Laurentians – a hilly region north of Montreal.

The 3,600-square-foot (344-square-metre) holiday home is situated on a hillside that slopes down toward Lac de la Cabane, or Cabin Lake.

The design team sought to create a “captivating architectural intervention” that emphasised the site’s steep and rocky topography.

“The first objective was to design a house in total harmony with its environment,” said MU Architecture, a studio with offices in Montreal and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

A series of stepped, rectilinear volumes were embedded in the slope, with certain portions extending over the landscape.

The staggered layout gave rise to several outdoor terraces. “This deployment creates a rich dialogue between architecture and the wild landscape,” the studio said.

The dwelling is clad in stone and wood. The uppermost level is sheathed in black-stained cedar, resulting in a dark mass that “dramatically overlooks the entrance”.

Rocks found during excavation were used in the site’s landscaping.

Upon entering the residence, visitors encounter a staircase made of glass, metal and wood. “The absence of columns in the design makes the glass railings levitate, thus giving the impression of great lightness,” the firm said.

The team aimed to make the interior feel friendly and intimate. “Minimalism and attention to detail bring to the residence a certain purity and comfort,” the studio added.

The ground floor contains an open-plan living room, dining area and kitchen. A veranda extends the dining zone to the outdoors, while large windows offer sweeping views of the lake and surrounding terrain.

Walls and floors are sheathed in natural wood. Black ash cabinetry in the kitchen is meant to contrast the white walls.

A double-sided fireplace was installed in the common room, helping create a cosy atmosphere within the ground level. “This main volume forms the heart of the project and brings the family together,” the team said.

The master suite was placed in the upper storey, while the lowest volume houses a play area and four bedrooms. Finishes include glazed black bathroom tiles and ash wall panels.

Overall, the intent was to create a spatial quality that reflected the “tranquillity of the place”.

Other projects by MU Architecture include a bright white holiday home in rural Quebec composed of two stacked volumes that cling to the steep terrain.

Photography is by Ulysse Lemerise Bouchard (YUL Photo)

Project credits:

Architects: MU Architecture
Project team: Jean-Sébastien Herr, Charles Côté, Jean-Philippe Bellemare, Pierre-Alexandre Rhéaume, Floriane Deléglise
Contractor: Paul Lalonde and Sons

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