Natalia Dionne Architecture out of Montreal has created a home in the Eastern Townships that stands on stilts among the hemlocks. The three-acre property is naturally rocky, sitting as it does in the Canadian Shield, and it was from on top of one of the rocks that the architects realized the house would need to be propped up to maximize the view of the ridge.
The home is simple in its layout, with one linear line and one primary floor encapsulating the living areas. Blending into the forest while maintaining a modern silhouette, the exterior features an exposed roof of engineered wood produced from Northern Quebec black spruce. The cladding is eastern white cedar, pretreated to accelerate greying and keep maintenance low.
One enters the house through the base level, where there is a bathroom, utility room, and a bunk room that can sleep 10. Up the walnut stairs is an open space between the master bedroom and the living areas, which are all on stilts. The stilts allow the home to be low impact while preserving the view that was essential to the clients. This elevation gives all of the living areas an arboreal accent; visitors feel as if they are among the trees physically and conceptually.
The master bedroom is simple with white walls and windows looking out into the bluffs and the forest below. Throughout the interior, polished-concrete floors work well with the white walls, and though the contrast of the spruce for the ceilings feels overwhelming, it provides a sense of the construction and materiality of the structure, connecting visitors with the house’s process.
In the main living area, an open concept meets the linear form, allowing long lines of sight through the floor plan. Windows are plentiful, and positive space is added by alcoves that jut out from the main rectangular frame. These alcoves provide some privacy from the open concept and allow for a partition between areas instead of walls.
The austere living room is dominated by a structural fireplace of blackened steel that contrasts well with the light woods and white gypsum walls. The fireplace also provides some separation from the stairs, demarcating the end of the main living space. Through the living room into the kitchen, walnut and Russian-plywood cabinetry accents a tasteful stainless steel vent that hangs from the ceiling. A 650-square-foot terrace ends the living space. It cantilevers out, edging into the hillside, providing a stunning place to sit and watch the forest below.
On the backside of the property, where the land slopes down, a rustic and functional stone staircase leads to the cavity space underneath the stilted main level, where firewood is stored.
From below, the home seems like a vessel, a floating wooden train moving in peace through the forest.
Photography by Raphaël Thibodeau.