_naturehumane is a Canadian architectural practice known for its geometric style and rational approach to design. In one of their most recent projects, La Brèche, the client wanted to build a compact second home surrounded by greenery on a small lot facing Mont Orford, in the Eastern Townships east of Montreal, Canada, adding that it was to be constructed in two volumes.
The architects’ strategic choice to address all of this while maintaining an appropriate degree of privacy for the personal spaces was to include the living and sleeping areas in the first volume, along with a workshop and a guest loft with its own bathroom in the second. The client’s wishes determined the shape and the name of the house, because the Brèche, the name of the project, refers to a walkway forming a clean break between the two halves of the house on its shorter side: a real breach creating an unexpected gap in what should apparently be a single volume.
The orientation of the house is dictated by the position of the land in relation to Mount Orford, the main element of the landscape visible from the house. The living room, dining room and kitchen overlook the mountain, visible through large bay windows that the architects have designed as real frames. Moreover, the position of the house at the top of a slope ensures that the views are not limited to the mountains only, but include the undulating forms of the landscape.
Stylistically, the architects of _naturehumane were called upon for a house “Combining both the desire for contemporary expression and the inspiration of traditional architecture”, and indeed at first glance the two volumes appear to conform to the traditional form of the house with a gable roof, with a contemporary look created by the absence of a roof overhang, a corner window without jambs, just joints silicone, and frameless windows and doors. While the house may appear rustic from the outside with its wooden cladding, inside its style is contemporary and minimalist, an effect achieved with white painted walls and ceilings, diamond concrete floors without skirting boards and the choice of some refined furniture finishes bringing the material qualities of wood into the home.
In their press note on the project, the architects of _naturehumane describe the element characterizing La Brèche: “Formally, the house is retained in its most basic form. The two building entities are separated by a six-foot-wide exterior passage clad in the same wood as the overall envelope. The overall impression gives the illusion that a natural phenomenon divided an initial entity into two distinct parts. The result is a space that gives direct access to the two volumes and to the bridge on the south-eastern facade. Above all, this passage offers a dramatic perspective framing the landscape behind the House”.
Beyond the architectural details, the client and the architects wanted to maintain a strong aura of simplicity and tranquility around the house, because La Brèche is a second home designed to contemplate nature and the landscape.
Project: The Breach
Type: Residential, Private, Cottage
Architect: _naturehumane https://naturehumane.com
Intervention: New construction
Location: Eastman, Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada
Area: 1300 square feet / 120 mq
Photo credits: Ronan Mézière