Natalie Dionne Architecture embraced the challenges of a remote site to create a contemporary residence situated gracefully on a three-acre site in the Eastern Townships, hidden in the serene woods of the Canadian Shield, and located approximately 100 kilometers from Montreal, Quebec.
The firm is based out of Montreal and they proudly support principles of eco-sustainability in their work.
Appropriately named, the Forest House exemplifies eco-sustainable design and construction, both conceptually and functionally. Let's take a look!
The exterior architecture of the Forest House is both a response and an homage to the great Northern woods that surround it. In the planning phase, the design team was faced with a difficult obstacle: a large 3-meter tall boulder that had an awkward shape obstructed the building path of the land that gets the most sunlight and most importantly, a beautiful view. Rather than alter the unfavourable terrain in any way, the design team decided to situate the dwelling above the boulder on supporting stilt posts, leaving a minimal footprint on the land while taking advantage of a spectacular vista.
The exposed roof is composed of engineered wood milled from Northern Quebec black spruce, while the skin of the home is cladding made of natural eastern white cedar; a nod to the majestic cedar trees around it. The eastern cedar wood cladding was also pre-conditioned with an additive that speeds up the natural greying process of cedar so it blends with the surrounding forest.
I believe that the decision the firm made in using natural, biodegradable materials instead of artificial ones is an important example of the kind of strides we should be making in Canadian architecture today.
The interior is a blend of earthly materials including solid maple, Baltic birch plywood, and concrete. This neutral natural palette was chosen to strategically and seamlessly integrate the dwelling with the surrounding landscape so the shelter experience is singular and harmonious. It's a testament to great design when the ego of an architect doesn't compete with the power of place, but instead celebrates and embraces it.
The generous aluminum-frame floor-to-ceiling apertures flood the spaces with natural light, frame stunning sightlines of the landscape, and embrace the connections between indoors and out. These design choices invite the occupants to participate in nature. By letting the environment be the focus, the architecture becomes a quiet magic in its design and composition.
In an age of rapid climate change and deforestation, shelters like The Forest House are of utmost importance to cultivate both a culture of sustainable design and a sustainable future for humans.
Check out their extensive portfolio by visiting Natalie Dionne Architecture.
As well, make sure to read our previous post on this amazing firm: Black Box I And II By Natalie Dionne Architecture In Montreal, Quebec
If you'd like to see more eco-sustainable homes, check out these other Houseporn articles!
Photography courtesy of Raphaël Thibodeau.
Researched and Written by Mikhail SK, Undergraduate Environmental Design, OCAD University