Flora and Floors

November, 2015


La SHED Architecture gave an old-school mansion in Montreal a new-age demeanor without pulling out the roots of its principal characteristics.

Born from the extreme transformation of a typical 90´s bungalow, the Maison Terrebonne, located on a vast plot of land is a lone wolf's paradise. The thorough overhaul of the building was designed to meet every need of a person living alone. Although certainly contemporary, the renovated residence is built on the same foundations as the original house, thus preserving one of its premier facets: split levels. Despite a small 1,500 sq ft living space, it offers vast open spaces with an abundance of natural lighting.

Beyond boundaries
The exterior is covered in natural eastern cedar siding that will fade over time to eventually further resemble the trees in the surrounding woods. Simple openings surrounded by black frames serve to punctuate the sheer volume of the house. The former garage has been replaced with a covered parking space open on either end creating a sense of transparency that provides, like all large openings, the space for nature to reclaim its place.

Split personality
The house features three split levels that help establish a hierarchy between intimate and communal zones, and are designed for a distinct set of functions. These zones are designed to be very open yet secluded, divided only by the central flight of stairs. Directly accessible from the carport at ground-level is the first of three floors. It houses both the entrance vestibule as well as a small office cum study room. The first flight opens to a bay window to the vast woods behind the home. The kitchen and dining room lie on one side of the window while the living room is a nook on this other. The cookery is organized around a large wooden island whose materials stand out against the neutral white walls.

At the crossroads of all these levels is located a pure white block that naturally reinforces the intimacy between zones and around which circulation gravitates within the home. This unique block unattached to the ceiling, allows for both an unobstructed line of sight and opulent natural lighting.

Hidden wonders
The staircase and corridor leading to the owner´s suite on the top level are located behind this central block with a discreet view of the inferior levels. Inside the cube, and accessible only from the bedroom, is a hidden bathroom. Inspired by the snowy landscapes that can be seen from the large windows in the Canadian winters, the bathroom is designed along simple, pristine lines. And though without a door, intimacy is preserved by the crafty configuration of walls. Inside the bathroom, floor and walls are covered in a pearl white glass mosaic and is modestly furnished with two white, minimalist blocks, bathtub and vanity. A thin setback kick space creates the impression that the cabinet isn´t attached to the floor while giving the bathroom a sense of space and lightness.

Private quarters
The bedroom is located at the very back and opens partially to the living spaces below. In order to limit visibility from the outside, windows are voluntarily limited in height creating long horizontal strips of light. At the rear, the room extends towards the woods by way of a loggia. From here the surrounding natural environment can be swallowed whole and soul thanks to the transparency of the glass railing barrier.

Photos: Maxime Brouillet
La SHED Architecture