This cedar-clad home feels like a retreat beside the river

River one side, busy road the other, this home tucks into its own world, only revealing its stunning, up-close-and-personal outlooks when it wants to

Designed by Nathalie Thibodeau Architecte

From the architect:

Positioned between road and river, the St-Ignace house allows you to enjoy the landscapes around it by creating distinct interactions with individual scenes that border it – including the St. Lawrence River. The architecture lets you contemplate nature at your leisure without opening your front door. Its openings create visual breakthroughs that accentuate the environment and place architecture at the service of the landscape.

Strategic location

Located between two industrial hubs, St-Ignace Island acts as a natural stopover for locals. Steeped in island traditions, its residents enjoy taking advantage of the proximity of the river in their daily life. It is along a road bordered by farmland and the St. Lawrence River that we find the St-Ignace house.

Rippling along the banks, the road sometimes gives way to narrow strips nestled between land and sea. It is in one of these breaches that the home is set up, in continuity with the linear landscape that surrounds it. The residence offers a place of respite between two constant movements, one terrestrial and the other maritime. The site is naturally separated from the road by a series of mature trees and its access is positioned to maintain this natural screen.

Set back, the positioning of the house also makes it possible to maximise the green spaces on the site while obstructing direct views of the neighbourhood. At the heart of the project, a terrace provides access to the house and acts as a connector between the two built volumes. The terrace helps to frame the surrounding vegetation while hiding the St. Lawrence River in the background for its dramatic reveal later.

A path to reveal the river

The entrance to the house is marked by a subtraction from the main volume, creating both a visual cue and a functional shelter from the weather. The dark stained grooved cedar siding marks the entrance, extending from outside to inside to encompass and distinguish the block of servant spaces from the project.

Naturally drawn by a long corridor to the living room, visitors come across a narrow view revealing the river in the background. This is how the house gently reveals the landscape that surrounds it, drawing attention and unconsciously preparing the visitor for the show to come. It is by entering the open area on two floors that you finally take in the river in all its magnitude. The generous bay windows do more than frame the landscape, they let it spill into the house so you can appreciate its immensity. The clear ceilings and the absence of partitions amplify this feeling of space and magnitude.

The outdoor terraces also each allow you to enjoy the surrounding landscapes in their own way. The one bordering the living room is refocused on the site, thus being more intimate and isolated. The one next to the dining room and the kitchen exposes the St. Lawrence River in all its magnitude. The latter terrace provides the ultimate view, without distractions, to the constant movement of this seaway. Despite their positioning on both sides of the main pavilion, the transparency of the volume allows each terrace to take advantage of the qualities of the other while retaining their unique identity.

Cedar cladding

The uniquely positioned home pavilion is clad in cedar slats in two distinct shades. One slat is grooved and dark. This is found both inside and set back outside, they want this slat to be the internal envelope of the home. The second, much thicker slat acts as an outer shell. A set of different slat widths allows the envelope to be textured randomly, recalling the verticality of the neighbouring trees. Made of cedar, the two materials will evolve over the years, developing their own character.

The second pavilion hosts an artist's studio.This building is clad with dark slats, as if it was necessary to remove all the protections covering it so it could express itself freely in the manner of an artist.

Credit list

Nathalie Thibodeau, Nathalie Thibodeau Architecte; team: Pascale Parenteau-Gauthier

Story by: Trendsideas

Photography by: Maxime Brouillet

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