1 980 SF
Featured in: McGill News – Spring 2009
The jagged form of Boulder House is inspired by the rocks jutting out of the rugged hills on the lake-front site. The house wraps along the side of a hill, with the entrance at the bottom of the hill and a deck opening on to the plateau on top. The roof line picks up on the downward slope of the hill and thrusts the viewer’s eyes back up, emerging from the cliff like the many loose boulders on site.
The house is built on pilotis to limit the disruption to the site, while maximizing solar access for this off-the-grid house. As the house is approached from the lake below, through a winding forest path, the slender posts blend into the tall stands of trees along the pathway and to the north of the house.
The clients, a young couple, left city life behind to start a bed and breakfast on this tranquil lake. Boulder House reflects their commitment to sustainability and their contemporary style. The planning centers around the large kitchen, as it is the hub of their daily life and of their business. The rest of the second floor is an open plan living and dining space designed to be flexible enough to accommodate large dinner parties, visiting chefs, and groups of guests of varying sizes.
The material palette is simple, sustainable and rich in references to the beautiful surroundings. A strong core of charcoal coloured CMU blocks slices up through the building from the bedrock. This concrete block wall is a part of a large radiant heating system which provides warmth to both floors. Strategically placed groupings of windows capture the surroundings in spectacularly framed views. The wrapping metal roof matches the colour of the stones scattered across the surface of the property. Finally the warmly coloured and smooth cedar siding is the colour of the core of a tree, and can be found peeking out from under the metal “shell” of the house at the entrance.
There are several green features in the house including a stacked and efficient plan for a small footprint, a structure on posts to minimize disruption to tree root systems and ground water flow, siting which maximizes solar access, and radiant floor heating fed by a solar hot water array and a high-efficiency wood burning stove. Furthermore, the design of the roof has overhangs which permit low-angle winter sunlight to penetrate into the house while shading summer sun, it also moves warm summer air up along the roof slope to the loft where it vents outside. The roof captures rain water and is clad in high-reflectivity and emissivity metal roofing.