Dozens of Levels Give a Quebec Home Stadium-Sized Views of the Forest

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By Emily Shapiro / Published by Dwell
In Chertsey, Canada, a modern haven reclines into its woodland setting.

Almost suspended in the surrounding landscape, this bold home by Architecturama emphasizes the contrast between nature and built forms. Its shape, angles, and incorporation of natural light link it to nature. Colorful details lends excitement to its otherwise simple exterior. 

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The home's exterior staircase features a diagonal handrail, constructed in three parts and painted slightly different turquoise tones. It contrasts with the surrounding landscape, adding dynamism and excitement to the otherwise simple, static structure of the home, which is clad in naturally weathered cedar siding.

The emphasis on the natural setting extends inside, where bleacher-style benches are built into the main space, their slope matching the natural incline of the landscape. This allows visitors to enjoy the view, while the benches themselves filter columns of light that change throughout the day. 

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Bleacher-style benches meet at right angles in the main interior space. The west-facing and south-facing seats are stained in slightly hues. Pillowcases are custom dyed to match the bleachers.

Architect Sylvain Bilodeau's interest in nature resulted not only in the integrated plan, but also in the home's orientation, which maximizes solar heating and effective ventilation. A large overhang in the facade helps mitigate the effects of the changing seasonal sunlight, while the home’s elevated position and orientation promote cross drafts. 

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The benches serve as furniture and space dividers, while heavy scaffolding underneath creates desks and bunks, perfect for an office space or impromptu sleeping area. The arrangement integrates a fireplace, movie projector, and movable feather cushions to encourage relaxation. The clamp lighting is equipped with WiFi-controlled bulbs by TCP.

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The bleachers not only provide a view to the outside, but also serve to define distinct spaces. In the kitchen, benches become food preparation stations and provide seating. The granite-topped cabinets have glass fronts. The refrigerator is from Moffat and the oven is from GE.

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A south-facing wall of windows allows for spectacular views and maximizes passive solar heating.

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“The owners were looking for a relaxed, welcoming environment,” says architect Sylvain Bilodeau. They wanted something “conceptually similar to a cottage, yet more refined, particularly in the relationships between spaces and between people. The goal was to have a present, living, and enthusiastic architecture that engages the senses.”

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The home’s cubed shape keeps the footprint small, while the overhang was designed to accommodate the changing angle of the sun. It prevents overheating in summer while admitting as much winter sunlight as possible.

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