For fans of absolute minimalism and a white palette, the project of the Canadian studio is a real inspiration.
In the southwest of the Canadian island of Montreal, in the thick of picturesque parks and lakes, the small (just over 3000 inhabitants) and cozy town of Baie-D’Urfé was lost. In it, a young family purchased a small two-story house, in the architecture and interior of which a number of shortcomings were revealed. To correct them, homeowners turned to the Montreal design studio Alain Carle Architecte.
Project: Norm Residence
Location: Baie d’Urf, Canada
Area: 395 m2
Author: Yann Dechesnes, Alain Carle Architecte
Photo: Felix Michaud
“The NORM project is a renovation and expansion of a single-family residence that breaks the overall image of a country house usually built without really taking into account its context.”Yann Dechesnes, the main designer of the project.
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Without light and privacy: features of architecture and landscape
The first thing that the designers liked was the picturesque landscape of Baie-D’Urfé and the atmosphere of wildlife, which I wanted to preserve and emphasize in the project as much as possible. But at the same time, a number of shortcomings in the architecture and location of the house were revealed, which needed to be eliminated.
Firstly, due to the winding streets and open landscape, the customer’s house was clearly visible from different sections of the road, which deprived the residents of a sense of privacy. Designers changed the location of the windows and the entrance area, partially hiding the facade with tall plants and a fence.
We were faced with the task of reconstructing and expanding the house, ensuring peace and tranquility in harmony with the surrounding nature.
The second drawback is the lack of daylight, which was aggravated by the peculiarities of the local climate: in the cold seasons, the sun is a rarity here. The southernmost, well-lit part of the structure was the garage, and all the main living quarters faced north. It was decided to fix this with the help of panoramic glazing, a total white palette, and large window openings under the ceiling.
At first glance, the house may seem ascetic and inhospitable, but this was done intentionally to create a neutral background for a dynamic family.
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Maximum freedom and harmony with nature: open floor plan without partitions
Designers took as a basis the type of farmhouse with sloping roofs of different sizes. They intersect at sharp angles, which visually expands the space. The lack of communication between the surrounding landscape was compensated by carefully thought-out window openings. They offer wonderful views of the landscape and emphasize the natural play of light.
New glazed openings are focused on natural objects, on the sky or the earth. So the layout of the premises allows you to better understand the landscape as a whole, increasing visual insulation, despite the nearby buildings.
An open layout in the interior increases the space of the house horizontally and vertically. Thanks to the sloping roof, the living room is perceived as high and voluminous. The columns are kept to a minimum for a sense of spaciousness and air: nothing prevents the eye from fully embracing the interior and picturesque landscape outside the windows. This spatial effect is enhanced by low furniture.
In the new configuration, windows of different sizes connect the interior with the outside world, and also give the house a more open and “inhabited” view from the street. It stands out against the background of other buildings, but harmoniously fits into the landscape
Minimalism on the verge of asceticism: interior decoration and décor
Customers, immersed daily in the dynamic rhythm of the city, needed visual and physical silence. Upon returning home, they wanted to immerse themselves in an absolutely white interior with a minimum of details, so that nothing distracted from the beautiful views outside the window.
The ascetic space with rough finishes and strict lines, created by designers, came in handy. Due to the abundant daylight and the combination of different textures (wood, textiles, ceramics, concrete), it is not devoid of warmth and comfort.
The deliberate elimination of materiality responded to clients’ desire to live in a minimalist, pure space, creating a neutral backdrop for their colorful lives.
Radical minimalism in the design of rooms seems to abolish their functionality, bringing to the fore the “landscape drawing”. It is expressed in the play of light and complex lines that unite the internal situation with the external environment.
The homogeneity of the interior decoration correlates with the abstract and diverse features of the exterior architecture of the building.
The strict shapes of the window openings are softened by rounded furniture, ball lamps, door arches, and occasional glimpses of landscapes in the windows. Vases and sculptures with the simplest possible design are neatly placed everywhere. They seem to echo the bizarre snow “caps” on the trees.
Different textures, changing light, and curved shapes repetitive throughout the house create amazing revelations that seem strangely familiar and relevant.
White on white: monochrome palette in the interior
Against the background of snowdrifts, the house seems snow-white. But, if you look closely, it was not pure white that went into the course, but its shades: a warmer cream in the design of the facade and fence, and a cold gray-white in the interior decoration. Sunlight penetrating the house from different angles, depending on the time of day, paints the interior in new semitones.
White monochrome gives a feeling of cleanliness and tranquility. And graphic inclusions of black and brown in the decor and window frames serve as landmarks for a sketch on a white canvas. They catch the eye and turn on the imagination.
See Also: White Bedroom Design: Detailed and Practical Guide
Playing with scale and form, distorting homogeneity and monochrome, Alain Carle Architecte managed not only to correct the architectural shortcomings of the house, but also to create a unique laconic space in harmony with nature.
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