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Play of light and volume

An interplay of openness and intimacy unfolding over the volumes of a single-storey home, Butternut is a project which reveals itself as the rhythm of a journey which does not offer all its surprises at a single glance. Built with prefabricated walls, the project was a great construction and creativity challenge for the architect, who, in order to break the effect of standardisation, unfolds the residence through four volumes of different heights offering a path full of views and multiple atmospheres. The lot, typical of the layout of houses in the suburbs, did not offer much privacy. To preserve its proximity to its neighbours, the architect favoured an installation in the form of a fence from which a naturally protected inner courtyard emerges. The strategic placement of several perimeter walls around the residence strikes a harmonious note with the intimacy, allowing plenty of light to enter through large windows, where vis-à-vis views of the neighbourhood are avoided. Inside, neutral colours and raw materials set the tone for warm, simple architecture.

The details are finely worked, as evidenced by the joints between the walls and ceiling, as well as those between the plywood panels that draw subtle gaps. This aligned language creates a discreet and elegant frame. The kitchen, designed in collaboration with “À Hauteur d’Homme”, is located in the heart of the house, like a necessary passageway to the other rooms. Pleasant and compact, like the residence itself, it opens onto the inner courtyard. Located in the highest volume, the monumental experience offered by the bathroom is further amplified by its doors and walk-in curtain. The various volumes of the house can be appreciated from the different courtyards, adding an urban and protective character to the space. The presence of mature trees, which stand out behind the volumes, gives the outdoor landscape an exotic and regenerating character. The project draws its strength from the attention paid to the interior and exterior spaces.

Instead of the traditional suburban house garden, the architect offers several outdoor spaces with different experiences. There is a garden area for gathering around the fire, a central courtyard around which the residence unfolds and which, in summer, allows the kitchen to continue and forms the heart of the project. Finally, another small outdoor courtyard offers protection from the elements. The elegant courtyards run along concrete paths adjacent to wooden patios. The landscape is uncluttered and enriches the views from the interior spaces of the house. An architecture of intertwined dialogue between indoor and outdoor spaces where views are rich, spaces are bright and quality of life is preserved, both inside and outside the residence.

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Project: Butternut
Architect: Maurice Martel
Year: 2022
Photo: Maxime Brouillet