QUEBEC CITY – Like its name would suggest, the High House stands white and tall against the snowy backdrop of the Canadian mountains. Paris-based firm Delordinaire, established by a trio of architects (Adrian Hunfalvay, Erwan Lêveque and Jean Philippe Parent) as recently as 2015, was commissioned to create a home that fulfilled the client’s wish to be able ‘enjoy the beautiful scenery in a unique way’. The result is an elevated – and elegant – residence that provides a platform for taking in the views.
Stilts enable the architectural form to be built on land that might otherwise be considered unstable, such as in this steep or uneven terrain, while also improving ventilation. Though, Delordinaire had an alternative reason for the raised design: ‘We wanted to make spaces that provide atypical relationships with the natural environment,’ reveals co-founding partner Adrian Hunfalvay. ‘The main living room has an open, floating feeling and a height above the surrounding tree line, giving it an uninterrupted view of the mountains.
Additionally, the stilt typology creates a sheltered terrace area with an outdoor wood-fire oven underneath the house.’ Raised above the snow, the building provides cover from the elements so that the exterior ground level can be used all-year round. The structure is made to feel even taller with a pitched roof – technically effective for shedding the build-up of snow – which stretches to an internal height of 6 m above the interior floor – abnormally high for such a small home. ‘Extending the ceiling height gives the interior spaces a unique feeling,’ Hunfalvay continues. ‘It also results in an exterior form that responds to the mountainous setting.’
The project is a culmination of techniques which respond to the environment in unusual ways. ‘The structure works with the radically changing variations of colour and light that occur at different times and seasons in the mountains. On a summer day, the house is the most striking built structure in view. However, the steeply-pitched roof plays on the jagged mountain skyline so it doesn’t feel out of place,’ Hunfalvay concludes. ‘In contrast, on an overcast winter day, the white structure – a combination of concrete panel cladding and corrugated steel roof panels – can almost entirely disappear and become part of the snowy landscape. Contextual architecture, for us, does not mean hiding a building or subverting into its surroundings. Rather, it means that the building has a unique and interesting relationship with its environment.
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