A Sleek Pool House Channeling Mies van der Rohe Grows From a Mountainside
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A Sleek Pool House Channeling Mies van der Rohe Grows From a Mountainside

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By Lucy Wang
Cedar, glass, and concrete combine in this minimalist pool house that draws inspiration from Mies van der Rohe’s 1929 Barcelona Pavilion.

Built into a mountainside west of Montreal, this modern pool house by Halifax–based MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects doesn’t just embrace views of the St. Lawrence River valley floor—it becomes a part of it.

A zigzagging path built of locally sourced Stanstead granite leads throughs a field of grasses to the Pool House.

A zigzagging path built of locally sourced Stanstead granite leads throughs a field of grasses to the Pool House.

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A sensitive design approach was paramount to the client, who sought a modern building that would feel like a natural extension of the rural environment.

The spa building behind the pool is topped by a green roof.

The spa building behind the pool is topped by a green roof.

"The seemingly simple structure is intricately crafted," says architect Brian MacKay-Lyons, noting that the project draws influence from Mies van der Rohe’s 1929 triumph and modernist icon, the Barcelona Pavilion.

Built into the foot of a forested mountain, the Pool House is located at the edge of the St. Lawrence River valley floor.

Built into the foot of a forested mountain, the Pool House is located at the edge of the St. Lawrence River valley floor.

"I believe that if any modern architect says they haven’t been inspired by Mies Van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion, they’re lying!" says MacKay-Lyons. "Speaking as both a professor and practitioner of architecture, I believe the Barcelona Pavilion is a masterwork of the 20th century. However, the point was never to copy it. Rather, I was inspired by the elemental qualities of wall, roof, and floor, and the dynamic asymmetry of the Pavilion."

The view from the far edge of the infinity wall to the glass-walled gym and outdoor lounge.

The view from the far edge of the infinity wall to the glass-walled gym and outdoor lounge.

The outdoor wood-burning fireplace is placed inside the board-formed concrete wall. The floors are locally quarried Stanstead granite.

The outdoor wood-burning fireplace is placed inside the board-formed concrete wall. The floors are locally quarried Stanstead granite.

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Completed over two years, the 2,500-square-foot pool house is defined by elongated linear forms: board-formed concrete walls, a glass-walled box with a flat roof, and a long infinity pool that extends towards the agrarian floodplain.

The long standing-seam zinc roof extends over the pool to provide shade to the outdoor lounge.

The long standing-seam zinc roof extends over the pool to provide shade to the outdoor lounge.

Back into the forest, the Pool House is oriented for panoramic views of the valley floor.

Back into the forest, the Pool House is oriented for panoramic views of the valley floor.

Partly enclosed by L-shaped concrete walls, the glass box opens up to the south and west to take full advantage of daylight. Inside are a gym, bathroom, sauna, and service areas. An outdoor lounge and wood-burning fireplace, sheltered by the monolithic roof with a cedar soffit, overlook the pool.

Western red cedar clads the interior walls and soffit.

Western red cedar clads the interior walls and soffit.

A peek inside the sauna, also lined with cedar.

A peek inside the sauna, also lined with cedar.

A look at the bathroom sandwiched between the sauna and gym.

A look at the bathroom sandwiched between the sauna and gym.

"This is an all-weather building, designed for use in all four seasons," the firm adds. "The glass walls surrounding the gym space open completely, reinforcing the indoor/outdoor nature of this space. Services are relegated to the back, north side of the pavilion, and buried below ground."

The Pool House seen at night.

The Pool House seen at night.

"The seamless connection from the interior fitness area to the exterior pool and spa aligns perfectly with the client’s wellness agenda," MacKay-Lyons says. "Additionally, the mechanical plant is hidden from view below ground, behind the house."

"The seamless connection from the interior fitness area to the exterior pool and spa aligns perfectly with the client’s wellness agenda," MacKay-Lyons says. "Additionally, the mechanical plant is hidden from view below ground, behind the house."

Pool House floor plan

Pool House floor plan

Pool House south elevation

Pool House south elevation

Pool House west elevation

Pool House west elevation

Related Reading: This Can-Do Pool House Cleverly Goes From Private to Party Mode

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Le Groupe ARCOP Architectes

Project Design: MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects / @mackaylyonssweetapple

Builder/ General Contractor: eSpace Construction

Structural Engineer: BCA Consultants Inc.

Civil Engineer: Marchand Houle et Associés

Mechanical Consultant: Dupras Ledoux Inc.