“De la Descente”: Nature-Inspired Architecture in Quebec


Architect: Matière Première Architecture
Contractor: Nu Drom

Photos: Maxime Brouillet
Area: 4500 pi2
Sofas: Ghauz
Exterior and interior siding: Maxiforet

Roofing: Mac Metal
Lighting: Luminaire Authentik
Landscaping contractor: Nature Art
Foyer: Béton Johnstone

Nestled on the western shore of Lake Memphremagog in Stanstead, Canada, the “De la Descente” project by Matière Première Architecture is a remarkable example of contemporary residential design. This forest retreat, envisioned for a young Montreal family, harmoniously integrates with its natural surroundings while embracing the local architectural vernacular. Let’s dive into the key aspects that make this project a unique addition to the landscape.

Vernacular Context: Embracing Local Aesthetics

The “De la Descente” project is set in Quebec’s Eastern Townships region, known for its eclectic mix of agricultural homes and lakeside chalets. This area is characterized by an empirical evolution of buildings, with successive additions and accessory structures creating a distinct urban fabric. The architects aimed to capture this essence, designing the garage as a detached structure from the main house, oriented differently to enhance the view towards the lake. This deliberate configuration allows for a visual corridor between the house and garage, embodying the functional yet aesthetic charm of the local vernacular architecture.

Innovative Design: Blending Functionality with Aesthetics

One of the standout features of the “De la Descente” project is its innovative approach to integrating the steeply sloping terrain. The garage, located one floor below the main house’s plateau, serves as an access point to the upper level, featuring an interior staircase that leads to a guest loft and an exterior passage to the main house. This clever solution not only respects the municipality’s restrictions on slope work but also contributes to the project’s overall aesthetics. The design embraces natural and durable materials, with locally sourced pre-aged white cedar for the exterior cladding and the same wood species used inside with a sanded and oiled finish.

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Interior Spaces: Organic and Functional

Inside the “De la Descente” project, the spaces are thoughtfully organized to enhance both functionality and visual appeal. The clients requested a cathedral living room with triangular fenestration at the top, presenting a unique design challenge. The architects extended the volume outward and recessed the curtain wall inward, creating a harmonious blend of interior and exterior elements. The cathedral space is organized organically, with furniture defining areas rather than physical partitions. This approach creates a fluid and welcoming environment, perfect for family living and hosting friends.

Architectural Design: Connecting with Nature

The architectural design of “De la Descente” emphasizes a strong connection with nature. Dormer windows play a crucial role, offering targeted views and a sense of floating among the trees. These windows allow natural light to flood the attic spaces, often dark in traditional designs. The nearby pool and concrete fire pit provide outdoor spaces for relaxation and enjoyment, enhancing the visual continuity with the lake. The project’s playful approach to volumes, sharp edges, curves, and heights creates a sense of walking inside a geometric sculpture, reflecting the architects’ commitment to blending functionality with artistic expression.

The “De la Descente” project by Matière Première Architecture is a testament to the studio’s ability to create harmonious and functional residential spaces that respect and enhance their natural surroundings. By embracing local architectural vernacular, using durable and natural materials, and thoughtfully organizing interior spaces, the architects have created a retreat that feels both timeless and contemporary. This project highlights the potential of thoughtful design to transform challenging terrains into beautiful and livable homes.

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