As part of an ongoing series to promote the eco-friendly use of renewable materials, Montreal-based studio Natalie Dionne Architecture has completed the Forest House I, a low-impact luxury home that celebrates timber inside and out. Set atop an outcrop of the Canadian Shield in the forested Eastern Townships, roughly 100 kilometers southeast of Montreal, the recently completed dwelling was commissioned by a couple who had long dreamed of a home in the heart of nature. In addition to a predominately timber palette, the architects inserted large glazing and outdoor living spaces to achieve a seamless transition between the indoors and out.
Though rich in natural beauty, the client’s 3-acre property posed major siting challenges in the beginning due to suboptimal orientation and the presence of many rocky outcrops. Rather than fill in the landscape with concrete, the architects took inspiration from a “particularly impractical” 3-meter-tall rock formation to devise an elevated design solution that would not only minimize site impact to the existing terrain but would also improve the home’s access to views and natural light.
Wrapped in low-maintenance eastern white cedar pretreated to encourage a silvery gray patina, the linear, 215-square-meter home rises out of the landscape like a rocky outcropping that is anchored on one end atop a base where a rock once stood. The other end, which is supported by slim columns, appears to hover over the rocky cleft and culminates in a partially sheltered terrace pointing toward a moss-covered escarpment. Glazed sliding doors allow for an uninterrupted transition between the outdoor living area and indoor kitchen, dining room and living room. The couple’s bedroom suite is tucked away on the southern end of the house. A staircase leads down to the smaller ground floor, where the entrance hall and a bunkroom — capable of accommodating up to 10 guests — are located.
Views of the forest are pulled indoors by floor-to-ceiling glazing, and a variety of timber surfaces reinforce the design’s connection with nature. Solid maple was used for the kitchen islands as well as for the vanities and stairs. The built-in cabinetry is constructed from Russian plywood. The timber palette is harmoniously integrated with polished concrete floors, white gypsum walls and natural aluminum windows.
Photography by Raphaël Thibodeau via Natalie Dionne Architecture