Set amidst a profusion of dense foliage, Pavillon du Lac, a guest house designed by renowned Montreal architecture firm Daoust Lestage, occupies a small parcel of land at the edge of an old-growth forest near the city. The award-winning firm, renowned for their large-scale public projects, including Montreal’s Quartier des Spectacles, completed this residential project in 2015.
The landscape surrounding the pavilion is characterized by a gentle incline along the forest floor. Further downhill the vegetation screen parts to reveal a panoramic view of the lake. Despite its location, shrouded amongst a sea of vegetation, the dwelling is a far cry from the conventional rustic lakeside cabin. The pavilion is wrapped in curtain walls of glass, which run the length of the walls on all four sides of the square-shaped abode. Unmarred by the obtrusion of frames, occupants are imbued with all the advantages of nature, without any drawbacks. Natural light illuminates the dwelling, making the humble guesthouse appear to swell several times in size, as the boundaries between forest and architecture are blurred. The enclosure seems to vanish, while the branching trees, the grassy slopes and the waves rippling across the lake become the domicile. Meanwhile, the guests enjoy all the comforts of the indoors; warmth, shelter from the elements and insects, as well as a comfortable place to lounge.
Daoust Lestage’s glass pavilion is held between two thin slabs of pale stone, comprising the floor plane and roof. The floor slab extends beyond the glazing to become a covered portico which wraps on two sides of the pavilion. As the topography slopes towards the lake, the concrete slab cantilevers over the terrain, creating a floating appearance. Discreet steel columns painted in white delicately support the roof structure. At 115 square meters, the modest dwelling seems to disappear into its surroundings, as the dark aluminum-clad edges of the slabs become immersed in the shadows cast by the old growth forest.
Instead of a traditional pitched roof, the design team opted for a flat roof, reminiscent of Modernist architecture, as seen in Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye and Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House. The roof, planted with native grasses, melts into the tree canopy above. Moreover, the copious overhang serves as a climate moderator, shading the house from the glare of the sun, while mitigating the effects of harsh elements such as wind, rain, and snow.
As a design constraint, the abode was required to fit within the narrow footprint of an existing cabin. Despite these tight spatial restrictions, the architects managed to fit in two bedrooms, a kitchen, and sitting room, as well as utility space. A basement was added beneath, too.
Daoust Lestage uses a simple palette, composed largely of glass, steel, and concrete, making for a minimalist feel. Although reminiscent of Modernist masterpieces, the Montreal firm’s approach to design takes cues from current trends in design and technology. The interior space is separated by wooden volumes, making for a rigid, clean and modern domestic composition. The arrangement of the volumes is strategically curated to shield private spaces from the exterior. Meanwhile, the frameless glass walls, which line the perimeter of the house, are triple-glazed, preventing heat transfer.
For those of you with a distaste for insects, you will appreciate this feature: Discreet, motorized mosquito screens, concealed by the ceiling slide down, preventing the intrusion of unwanted house guests. Perhaps a lesson learned from the Farnsworth House, another glass house which infamously attracted swarms of insects at night which were drawn by the illuminated glass box in the forest. It is apparent that the Montreal firm took great care to design each and every detail to maximize efficiency, comfort, and aesthetics.
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To learn more about their portfolio, visit Daoust Lestage.
All images are courtesy of Adrien Williams
This article was researched and written by Sonia Jin, an undergraduate student of Environmental Design, University of British Columbia.