This modern Laurentian Ski Chalet is a brilliant family retreat designed by Robitaille.Curtis. Set 2,435 feet above sea level on the steep slope of a former ski hill near the village of Saint-Donat, it is one of the highest residential properties in Quebec's Laurentian area. This perch affords panoramic views over 100 miles of the beautiful Archambault lake, with dense maple, beech, and birch forests surrounding this rural escape.
It was important to Robitaille.Curtis that the residence's footprint be as minimal as possible. As such, the building stands on 8” x 8” pilotis made of western red cedar; this elevation allows the native elements and vegetation to flow and grow uninterrupted underneath the structure. The main structure boasts two cantilevered bays and a slender and efficient volume. The primary living level is 30 feet above the ground and can be accessed via a bridge that connects to the east side of the residence.
The main floor has an open plan that sees the kitchen, dining area, and living room flowing seamlessly into each other.
The living room is situated on the southernmost end and is bathed in sunlight that streams in from large windows on all three sides. The room features a small cozy window seat that frames breathtaking mountain vistas while providing additional seating space. The living room also leads out to an expansive wooden deck with an outdoor fireplace.
The kitchen is arranged around a large central island that accommodates a gas cooking top and a prep sink. The east side of the kitchen and dining overflow into a shallow bay. This space is spanned by a 27-foot-long bay window with window seats that conceal storage space below them. The abundance of window seats extends the seating beyond the living room, giving the house ample comfortable space for entertaining family and friends.
To capture the magnificent views, there's extensive fenestration on the entertainment level. Apart from the window wall that runs the full width of the bay, there is a continuous clerestory window adorning the full length of the opposite end of the home. While serving the purpose of inviting natural light and the remarkable views, the heavy glazing would also serve to perceptually widen the narrow space of the main living level. Blurring the visual barriers between the exterior and interior would make the interior space feel wider and brighter.
When that is added to the white walls, white ash flooring and a ceiling finished in western red cedar, the interior exudes a simple modern elegance with warmth.
At the far north end of this level is the master suite. As with every other room on this floor, windows allow a lot of natural light in and access to additional stunning views.
A simple wooden staircase leads to the lower level where you can find the children’s bedrooms, a guest bedroom, a play room, and a steam room. All these rooms also take advantage of the private and expansive views of the forest. The children’s bedrooms feature custom-made and build in furniture, exemplifying just how tailor-made and deliberate every aspect of the home’s design is.
On the outside, the house stands out from its environment but blends in with it thematically. While the cladding of dark stained white cedar contrasts visually with the snowy landscape it was designed for, the material choices connect the home with its forested surroundings. The angle of the roof matches the slope of the mountain. The exposed eaves of the roof are finished in more western cedar.
Robitaille.Curtis have successfully risen to, and overcome, the challenge of working with a sloping terrain. Their design solution demonstrates structural and environmental tactfulness while remaining stylishly modern and thematically consistent with the site. I absolutely love that the exterior of the building contrasts so strongly with the snowy mountains. The building’s strongest impact on the landscape is strictly visual, as it should be.
Visit RobitailleCurtis to check out their impressive body of work!
All photos are courtesy of the talented Marc Cramer.
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Researched and Written by Yinoluwa Olowofoyeku, Undergraduate Student of Architectural Design at the University of Toronto