Located a few skips away from Montreal Island, the Lac Deux-Montagnes (Lake of Two Mountains) is known for its exceptional sailing conditions. But like most other littoral zones, the terrain presents its fair share of obstacles for building.
When the owners of a small plot of land off the lake approached Montreal’s Paul Bernier Architecte to construct a cottage on their property, they realized they were up against a significant obstacle: only a small portion of the land was located beyond the 100-year flood line. According to urban planning regulations, the architects could only build on the area above the line — a limitation which they immediately saw as an exciting challenge.
Under construction since 2016, the house has now been finalized — and aptly nicknamed “Le Bateau dans les Arbres” (The Boat in the Trees). The clients are avid fans of water sports, and the play on form here is obvious: the home is shaped somewhat like a boat, with the master bedroom — a rounded room with wrap-around fenestration, facing the lake — occupying the prow. A perimeter defined by the flood line shapes the house’s design, creating a form defined by setbacks and sharp angles.
Comprised of two floors — a wooden box topped by an elliptical volume — the home’s irregular shape is rooted in practical concerns. A large white roof cantilevers well beyond its footprint, creating a a wraparound porch that shields the building from the sun. The generous veranda also provides shelter from the rain, and protects a terrace at the back that juts out onto the land like a dock on the lake.
From the front, the home makes an unusual sight for the quiet Oka neighbourhood — and one that sometimes attracts attention from passersby. To ensure privacy for the occupants, a large window covered in semi-transparent cedar slats provides a customizable level of visibility at the front of the house. The slats slide to open or conceal the street-facing facade to curious eyes.
At the back, a floor-to-ceiling sliding window opens onto the lakefront, and to panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. When the sliding doors are open in warmer weather, the wind blows through the window veils, evoking the sails on a boat. Inside, concrete floors and a wood fireplace complete the minimal look — a nod to rustic “cottage life” within a distinctly contemporary design.
In the town of Oka, Quebec, Paul Bernier Architecte designs a context-sensitive home that pays playful homage to the art of sailing.