7 Incredible Modern Homes by Canadian Architect Paul Bernier

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By Michele Koh Morollo / Published by Dwell
Montreal-based architect Paul Bernier has been creating stunning homes in both rural and urban areas of Quebec for almost two decades. His works can be recognized by an emphasis on natural light, custom-made furniture, and a sophisticated use of simple and raw materials such as wood, stone, metal, concrete, and glass.

Bernier says he often finds synthetic materials disappointing, especially if they're imitations of natural materials. "Synthetic materials often don’t age well. They go from looking new to looking decrepit—whereas natural materials, like a brass handrail, will oxidize and polish itself with time and use, making it even more beautiful than when it was first installed," says Bernier.

A number of his most interesting projects are located within rural areas, where factors like views, sun exposure, vegetation, topography, and wind direction help lead the design. He plays on the strengths of the site while minimizing the impact of its weaknesses. His designs are also guided by the ergonomics of his clients' day-to-day lives.

Take a look at seven homes that exemplify his design approach. 

House on Lake Charlebois

Cor-Ten steel is used for the exterior cladding of this house near Charlebois Lake in Ontario, Canada. Once installed, the steel panels developed a beautiful orange patina as a result of oxidation. When the surface is covered, the oxidation stops and the inner portion of the steel plate is protected. 

7 Incredible Modern Homes by Canadian Architect Paul Bernier - Photo 1 of 7 - In the winter, the polished-concrete floor, which connects to a large, south-facing opening, accumulates heat from the sun during the day and keeps it indoors at night.

In the winter, the polished-concrete floor, which connects to a large, south-facing opening, accumulates heat from the sun during the day and keeps it indoors at night.

House on Lake Grenier

This low-rise house has a sinuous shape that was guided by the nature that surrounds it. The building itself folds, opens, and tightens like a river digging its bed. On the south side is a large window opening that bends outwards to connect with the surroundings.

7 Incredible Modern Homes by Canadian Architect Paul Bernier - Photo 2 of 7 - The facade will turn gray and silver naturally, so its verticality, texture, and colors will blend in with the vertical tree trunks of the forest.

The facade will turn gray and silver naturally, so its verticality, texture, and colors will blend in with the vertical tree trunks of the forest.

House in Bromont

Built within an elevated clearing in the forest, the U-shaped "day block" section of this house sits on the highest point of the plateau, creating a courtyard that opens on one side and presents a view of the downhill slope. The "night block" section of the house advances along the natural slope to become a two-story volume with a garage underneath.

7 Incredible Modern Homes by Canadian Architect Paul Bernier - Photo 3 of 7 - The boundaries between the indoors and outdoors are blurred with breakthroughs and a massive window on the southeast corner that presents stunning diagonal views of the forest.  

The boundaries between the indoors and outdoors are blurred with breakthroughs and a massive window on the southeast corner that presents stunning diagonal views of the forest.  

Chalet in Sutton

This ski holiday, mountain cottage for a family with two children features a roof slope that's inverted to the site’s topography, which results in a design with two levels on its south end with wide openings, and a low facade that's protected by a car shelter on the north section. 

7 Incredible Modern Homes by Canadian Architect Paul Bernier - Photo 4 of 7 - Cedar planks on the exterior walls are dyed black. On the indoor walls, the cedar planks are dyed white. 

Cedar planks on the exterior walls are dyed black. On the indoor walls, the cedar planks are dyed white. 

House Bernier-Thibault

For his own family home, Bernier added two glass-and-wood volumes with similar dimensions to an existing house. One was placed on top of the roof, while the other was placed in the garden under a big maple tree.

7 Incredible Modern Homes by Canadian Architect Paul Bernier - Photo 5 of 7 - A minimal material palette of oiled yellow birch and oxidized steel gives the interiors a Japanese-inspired, Zen-like feel.  

A minimal material palette of oiled yellow birch and oxidized steel gives the interiors a Japanese-inspired, Zen-like feel.  

House in Alma

The interiors of this single-story, shoe box-style house in Montreal’s Little Italy is separated into two areas: the parents' zone and the children’s zone. They're demarcated by a large black cedar wall that runs from the front to the back.

7 Incredible Modern Homes by Canadian Architect Paul Bernier - Photo 6 of 7 - A skylight in the ceiling floods the house’s double-height wood trellis bridge with plenty of natural light.

A skylight in the ceiling floods the house’s double-height wood trellis bridge with plenty of natural light.

House on Archambault Lake

In the open-concept living and dining area on the ground floor, steel beams with great spans of uninterrupted columns support a ceiling made of cedar boards. A floating staircase of steel and wood link the three floors of the house. 

7 Incredible Modern Homes by Canadian Architect Paul Bernier - Photo 7 of 7 - Located on a steep slope that descends toward Lake Archambault, the house’s elevated position presents magnificent views of the lake and surrounding forest. 

Located on a steep slope that descends toward Lake Archambault, the house’s elevated position presents magnificent views of the lake and surrounding forest. 

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