Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Hill-Maheux Cottage in Val-des-Monts, Canada by Kariouk Associates
December 2nd, 2011 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Kariouk Associates
To design a small, very private, four-season cottage
In this small, weekend and vacation retreat, the clients and their daughter seek to take refuge from the world. As such, the home is introverted; but the clients also desired that the house achieve a maximum connection to its beautiful, forested, lake-side site. Last, it is important to note that this home is built as a place the clients will keep for their entire lives and then pass on to their daughter; the clients, a couple each involved in art conservation, sought a home whose design would itself be conceived as a vessel for the conservation of the family memories that will unfold here.
The design of the cottage is simple: two “bars” of living space – one private containing bedrooms, bathrooms, and storage; one public containing family living areas – are joined by an elliptical loft – the daughter’s domain – that intersects each ground-floor volume and hovers over the foyer giving shelter to the entry below.
Rather than “walling-in” the two ground-level volumes to achieve privacy, they are sited on the edge of the property where vegetation is the densest and are made with large expanses of glass. The glass and aluminum curtain wall exterior is juxtaposed with hand-made, luxurious, ephemeral drapery (sometimes opaque, sometimes translucent, sewn by the couple and their daughter during time spent at the cottage) that billows throughout the interior (as explained graphically in the computer animation). This drapery (as well as integral lighting) suspends from two metal rods – one representing the parents, and one representing their daughter – which travel throughout the house crossing and bypassing each other in a complex choreography that is scripted as a metaphor for their particular family’s life journey.
An oil-finished, dark rod begins as the outdoor entry handrail, like an outstretched hand welcoming guests to their home, and continues throughout the “private” volume, finally coming to rest at the stairs of their daughter’s loft; the second curtain rod, with a lighter, more luminous finish, begins as the handrail to the loft’s stair, passes through the “public” volume to the exterior, screened-in deck, only to return once again to the interior of the cottage, completing its journey as the light over the family’s dining table.
The loft volume above the entry is surfaced with a “quilt” of copper and zinc printing plates that the clients received from a printmaker friend. Many of the plates, etched with landscapes, appear on the underside of the volume (the foyer ceiling). However, before the plates are installed, images of those plates are pressed upon fabric and sewn into the drapery as mementos; the remaining, yet-unetched plates can be removed, worked by the clients and their friends visiting the cottage, and then reinstalled onto the design after they are printed onto new drapery sections, and in this way the house keeps a record of its past.
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