Appearing to float among the trees at Boulevard des Forges in Mauricie, Canada, Résidence des Forges is an architecturally expressive abode. Designed by Bourgeois / Lechasseur architectes, this family home is noticeable for the marked contrast between its two exterior building materials: an upper half clad in a black spruce plank and a lower half set on a natural stone foundation. This clear-cut distinction reflects the region's industrial, yet poetic heritage.
In a project that shows consideration for the physical constraints of its setting, Bourgeois / Lechasseur architectes explains: “the house is sculpted and moulded to carefully reflect and respect the topographic slopes, the views, the vegetation, and the meandering curves of the [Saint-Maurice River].” Résidence des Forges is approached via a 265-meter-long private driveway and gradually reveals itself through the tall pines. Perched atop a 55-meter-high cliff, the house sits on the edge of the precipice’s erosion zone. “To fully enjoy the views, the new construction had to be built in alignment with the cliff's profile at a distance of 20 meters,” says the architect.
Résidence des Forges is made up of three wings, arranged in a Y-shaped configuration designed to interact with the river bend. Set on a natural stone foundation, each wing is supported by a primary steel structure and an exposed secondary woodwork structure. The black spruce plank siding was “chosen for its visual neutrality,” explains the architect. Where the stone foundation blends with the natural surroundings, the upper floor appears suspended in mid-air. The home’s cantilevered living areas focus the views on the surrounding landscapes.
The home is accessed via a sheltered outdoor space, with archways on all four sides. “The design of the arches is inspired by Les Forges du Saint-Maurice, echoing traditional natural stone masonry techniques,” says the architect. A solid wood and glass door opens onto the center of the residence. In a space where the three wings converge, its focal point is the sweeping staircase that encircles a cascading pendant.
In terms of spatial planning at Résidence des Forges, the living areas, kitchen, and main bedroom suite are on the upper floor, with guest areas, garages, and utility rooms on the ground (first) floor. An intricate ceiling covered with knot-free cedar slats offers a warm contrast to the concrete, steel, and glass materials. With views of the Saint-Maurice River, an outdoor terrace is supported by a V-shaped steel structure and a staircase leads to an open air relaxation area. Beyond this, a long stairway connects to a self-contained boathouse, a quiet space with a kitchenette, shower room, and roof terrace.
A truly prepossessing property, Résidence des Forges is an example of architecture that is thoughtfully expressed and respects its natural surroundings.