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MU Architecture designs Malbaie VIII Residence, La Grange in Cap-à-l’Aigle, Canada

Project name:
Malbaie VIII-La Grange
Architecture firm:
MU Architecture
Cap-à-l’Aigle, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
Ulysse Lemerise Bouchard (YUL Photo)
Principal architect:
Charles Côté & Jean-Sébastien Herr
Design team:
Charles Côté, Jean-Sébastien Herr, Jean-Philippe Bellemare, Pierre-Alexandre Rhéaume, Sabrina Charbonneau
Interior design:
Built area:
3400 ft²
Site area:
Design year:
Completion year:
August 2013
Civil engineer:
Structural engineer:
Chevrons Charlevoix
Environmental & MEP:
Tools used:
Wood, glass, metal
Florent Moser, Alain Rajotte
Residential › House

MU Architecture: “La Grange”, the new residence of the “Terrasses Cap-à-l’Aigle” development, is situated in the magnificent Charlevoix region. Its architecture highlights the rugged charm of the site while framing the breathtaking views of the St. Lawrence River. Located atop a ridge and surrounded by the neighboring forest, this large house dominates the site with its two storey height.

The reinterpretation of the traditional barn found in the area is the driving force of the architectural concept. Fully wrapped in a dark gray metal cladding on its sides and roof, the residence protected from the elements features a familiar form. Three volumetric cuts in the main volume, coated in white cedar planks are made to clearly mark the entrance on ground-floor and create space for two terraces on the upper floor. As if the metal skin had been stripped off to reveal a more fragile interior, the envelope evokes the idea of a tree’s bark protecting its inner core.

The experience of the house takes root in the basement, within its wood cladded and concrete formed walls, where a large playroom and children's dormitory cohabit. At the ground level, the main lobby, entirely covered in wood, welcomes you in a cozy spa-like atmosphere. From the main entrance you can access four large en-suite bedrooms and the main staircase. In contrast to the white cedar walls, the railing of the staircase is made entirely of raw hot rolled steel. With surprising lightness it acts as a backbone connecting the different levels of the house.

As we move from the basement to the top floor, we enter the living spaces overlooking the forest and the surrounding area. We gradually discover framed views of trunks, branches and foliage as our eyes are lost over the distant mountains. The upper level reveals itself as a large open plan with kitchen, dining, lounge and living space. The mirror effect of radiant concrete floor accentuates the fluidity of the space and reflects the abundant natural light onto cedar walls and ceiling. Under an impressive cathedral ceiling, a fireplace is conveniently placed in the center of the open plan to unify the various activities of reading, cooking, eating and relaxing. The ambiance of the space plunges us into a comfort similar to that of old wooden homes. At night, low light levels slip the ceilings into shadow creating a warm but mysterious atmosphere that evokes the traditional Québécois evenings of yesteryear.

By Naser Nader Ibrahim

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