House on Lac Grenier

“Our clients have owned this property for a number of years. They know it well and love its varied features,” says architect Paul Bernier of the House on Lac Grenier in Estérel, Canada. “They were looking for a sustainable and site-sensitive project that would preserve its topography, vegetation, and natural appearance.”

The lakefront site is entirely wooded. It is crossed by a stream on its south side and has a steep incline on the north. These characteristics and the need to build at a distance from the stream suggested a lengthwise placement, with the house slipped in between the stream and the slope.

Bernier’s firm chose to create a low-profile, primarily single-storey building. Its meandering shape is determined by the opportunities offered by the surrounding landscape. The structure bends, opens, and narrows like a river carving its own path. The form is clad in a single material, with vertical cedar slats of varying width and thickness placed in an open-work manner. The building’s weatherproofing is assured beneath the spaced slats, which conceal the flashing, drip edges, and trim usually visible on the exterior of traditional wood structures. The surface reads instead like a palisade that follows the shape of the building and into which openings have been cut.

From the path leading up to the entrance, the building appears as a mostly opaque volume that follows the contours of the site. The garage is concealed from view. To the right, an opening in the palisade invites visitors to come inside. Along the south facade, the volume of the house bends and opens up to let in the light and make the most of the forest view. Further along, the volume bends again, turning toward an opening in the woods that offers a view of the stream flowing into the lake. On the north side, smaller openings frame perspectives of the surrounding landscape and allow the building’s occupants to enjoy the gentle murmur of the stream, which still runs over the property. Atop the roof, a small tree-house-like room looks out onto the surrounding greenery.

With time, as the cedar slats fade and the trees and ground cover grow back in around the building, architecture and nature will intermingle. Nature will also be invited to cover the building itself, thanks to its green roof. Seen from the rooftop study or the hill, the structure will blend into its natural environment.

You might also like