A home on Lake Memphremagog
A return to a balanced lifestyle, simple technologies, and materials requiring little maintenance
Previously published on July 12, 2017
Located on the shores of Lake Memphremagog in the Eastern Townships, the Lachance House is a second home designed for two sisters native to the region who share their lives between Montreal and Magog. The clients, lovers of music, nature and the land, expressed their wish for a house with an open living space, where gastronomy and family cooking would be directly linked to nature and the lake. At the heart of the space are the three strong and unifying elements of the project: the kitchen, the large dining table and the piano.
Like Memphremagog’s landscape, the house reflects a spirit of openness, where the physical limits are sometimes blurred, sometimes marked. The panoramic beauty of the surroundings and immediate landscape serves as an anchor and starting point for the architecture. The large agricultural lands and valleys, punctuated by visual traces such as fences, ditches and stone walls, extend to the horizon and open again to other hilly and mountainous landscapes.
The concept of the house naturally takes up this idea of landscape traces to define the domestic space. Thus, the idea of wood fencing is reinterpreted. Located at the centre of the site, the latter turns over on itself, several times in an uninterrupted manner, to define the enclosure. From the ground, the wooden band rises and envelops the living spaces and modulates the openings of the house. The variation in panoramic views allows multiple landscape experiences with nature and the lake. In addition to this variation in views, the simplicity and volumetric organization of the house are based on this element of anchoring to the site and creates a contemporary residence inspired by the vernacular typology of agricultural buildings and constructions of the Eastern Townships.
The approach to the residence is from the south of the site. From the moment of arrival, the concept of a wooden enclosure is highlighted by the horizontality of the superimposed bands that spread from east to west. The hemlock enclosure evolves from a semi-transparent materiality, hiding an inner courtyard at the entrance of the house, towards a more conventional envelope materiality. The large horizontal windows offer reflections of nature and the neighbouring lake.
The resultant wooden object is solidly anchored to the ground by the continuity of the enclosure, transformed into concrete but retaining traces of the hemlock planks, resembling fossilized wood. On the western side, a screened porch is oriented towards the view of sunsets over the lake, while the eastern garage/workshop includes the technical spaces of the house and contributes to defining the interior courtyard, which is sheltered from the wind and acts as a secondary terrace. In contrast to the light wood hemlock, the stone mass at both ends of the house firmly anchors the building to the ground, reminiscent of tree roots that envelope rock masses.
Balance, materiality and reuse
The clients, elderly and tired of accumulating superfluous things, demonstrated their desire early on in the project to return to a balanced lifestyle, simple technologies, and materials requiring little maintenance. The house is thus distinguished by a reduced footprint, the absence of a complex mechanical system and a vernacular approach.
The introduction of passive principles to ensure good ventilation and controlled solar gains has made it possible to not use a traditional HVAC system. Combined with an envelope and glazing with insulation that surpasses standards, natural ventilation through North-South and well-oriented roofing, variations in relief of the hemlock enclosure act sometimes as a sunscreen, sometimes as a structural wall or as a semi-transparent screen. These simple principles ensure the comfort of the occupants by minimizing heat input in summer.
The local hemlock wood, the main material of the residence, is left natural and will take on a gray patina over time. The house will begin to blend in with the natural environment, merging perfectly with the trees already occupying the site. The use of local materials, such as recovered and reworked barn boards, to make up the built-in furniture and the central staircase, provides a direct link to rural buildings that bear witness to longevity and durability. The installation, on the entire ground floor, of a pavement of polished stone recovered from the agrarian walls of the surroundings, acts as a thermal mass. The comfort, simplicity and warmth of the materials chosen are conducive to the family atmosphere desired by the clients and accompany with subtlety the aromas of preserves and sugar tarts that simmer in the kitchen!
Location: Lake Memphrémagog, QC
Opening date: 2016
Area: 2800 ft²
Architect: ACDF Architecture
Architectural team: Maxime-Alexis Frappier, Martin Champagne, Christelle Montreuil Jeanpois, Clothilde Caillé-Lévesque, Maxime Boisselle, Maxime Boily
Other professionals: Jean Marc Dugré structural engineer; Constructions Boivin, General contractor
Photographer: Adrien Williams
Present on the Montreal scene for more than 20 years, the firm has evolved, distinguished itself and carved a place at the forefront with the realization of high level architectural projects. By putting the interests of users at the heart of its practice, ACDF is able to offer projects with innovative and inspiring design in accordance with the principles of sustainable development. acdf.ca