Amazing Cantilevered Home in the Mountains

Architecture firm _naturehumaine designs a dream hideaway in eastern Quebec.

Teeming with owls, moose, and black bears, the snowy forests of Eastern Quebec make an ideal site for a winter fortress. It was perfect for Canadian architecture firm _naturehumaine’s latest client, a behind-the-scenes movie guy who wanted a secluded place to recuperate from intensive, exhausting projects.

The home’s geometric silhouette echoes the classic typology of the region’s gable roof barns. "We took our inspiration from this vernacular architecture and re-interpreted it with a contemporary twist," Dworkind says.

Architects Stéphane Rasselet and David Dworkind delivered with a strikingly simple concept. They anchored two stacked, rectangular volumes into a steep mountainside surrounded by awe-inspiring vistas. "We love the sensation of floating amongst the trees that you feel as you look out from the cantilevered second floor," Dworkind says.

The project’s unique challenges—a tight budget and steep, difficult terrain — led the architects to a creative solution that gave the house its delightfully sculptural appearance. Making the first floor’s envelope slightly narrower than the top one’s saved money while minimizing the amount of excavation required. "We were then able to create a wider floor plate on the upper level by having it cantilever over the lower level," Dworkind explains.

But while the basic design is simple, the details are complex. Though working on a relatively small budget of $175 per square foot, the architects filled the 1,740-square-foot cabin with sophisticated creature comforts—from a one-of-a-kind centralized fireplace to a panoramic picture window that takes in wide-angle views of nearby Mount Orford. The result is impressively cinematic, speaking to the client’s professional interests while still letting him forget about work entirely. 

The horizontal strip window in the combined living and dining room frames the wooded mountain range and valley, transforming the home’s interior with the changing seasons. It also saved money during the construction process, as the minimal glazing cost a lot less than floor-to-ceiling windows. "It lets you enjoy the spectacular views without breaking the bank," Dworkind says.

A centralized fireplace was built into a custom, multi-purpose cabinet welded from sheets of hot-rolled steel. It stores firewood, holds a TV, and even acts as a guardrail for the staircase.

The architects stuck to a gray-scale color palette, installing slate tile floors that softly contrast with the white walls and Eames dining chairs. "It lets the views out the windows become the focus," Dworkind explains. Doses of pure black accent important features, like the central wall that divides the kitchen and master bedroom behind it from the main living space.

In the kitchen, the architects reigned in the house’s high ceilings for a more intimate feel; its lower height also tastefully hides unsightly ducting necessary for ventilation. Beneath the bar sit two Kaysa Black Bar Stools by Baxton Studio. A Gessi faucet complements a Blanco Modex sink.

The staircase was built using standard wood frame construction with plywood treads. Each step was then covered with a thin sheet of folded steel that outlines its angled profile.

In the bathroom, the architects mounted a Kohler sink on a sloped, custom-slate countertop. Since the stone doesn’t hold up well in water, the architect switched to black mosaic tile in the shower. The faucets are from Cabano’s Century series.

The bedroom’s vertical, floor-to-ceiling window lets occupants admire the graceful trees outside. A Mini Tolomeo lamp by Artemide sits on the bedside table.

The home’s lower level serves as a garage, allowing direct access to the house.

The home’s elevated location means its occupants can enjoy the slow rise of the full moon while staying warm indoors.

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