While some of our favourite houses have been striking, bold statements amongst their surroundings we have always held a soft spot for where architectural form melds into the natural landscape. You know the type of building; it looks simultaneously brand new and ageless while blending into its surrounds gracefully in both material and shape.
This Lac St Victor Estate home in Quebec is a case in point for earth-rooted design, drawing on the site’s sloped topography and largely recycled materials to bring both a building and a sensibility to life; one that respects the environment and history of its location, values rural traditions and suggests a simpler way of living.
Rising from the site’s gentle slope, the design from Alain Carle Architecte is fragmented into four pavilions, ensuring the constant influx of natural light to all spaces. The organic floor plan creates a central space to look completely outward – in homage to the ‘heart of the village’ – it links the surrounding buildings that form the home.
Each of the homes ‘buildings’ has a distinct purpose and spatial emphasis. The southerly pavilion contains the ‘social spaces’, the living room and meal preparation areas – not so much your traditional ‘open plan kitchen/dining/living’ but more a diverse space centered around bringing people together. The other wings of this pavilion offer sleeping areas, punctuated by generous water spaces to relax – dry and wet saunas, big showers and a small cold water pond in place of a swimming pool outside to complement the spa-like sequence. Other volumes accomodate workspaces, a guest wing and a work zone – including a maintenance and DIY workshop.
The design approach draws heavily on natural materials, both recycled and found. The interior and exterior wall claddings come from an abandoned sawmill and the paving stones were recovered from an old quarry nearby. In keeping with the organic approach, the house faces south to allow a passive energy gain, with combined with the geothermal system ensures overall energy efficiency.
Fittingly, the values that characterise the home’s design also define its appeal as more than a space, but a lifestyle. The low-impact environmental output, the natural forms and materials and the emphasis on simple wellbeing – sharing a meal, soaking the body, taking in nature’s quiet – who couldn’t envy a lifestyle like this?