La Charbonnière

La Charbonnière

Architect
Alain Carle Architecte
Location
Cap-à-l'Aigle, QC, Canada | View Map
Project Year
2016
Category
Private Houses

La Charbonnière

Alain Carle Architecte as Architects

This residence’s occupancy program has been fragmented into four pavilions, according to an organic plan, freeing a central space that looks completely outward. A little like the “heart of a village”, this space links the other building bodies, geometrically distinct from each other.

This architectural composition arises more from the special topography of the site than from a formal preconception. The site’s gentle slope therefore favoured “tiered” development, offering a constant influx of light to all spaces.

The most southerly pavilion contains the living room, the more social spaces of the residence, and opens generously to the outdoors so as to offer a greater energy gain during the winter. The volume is open, with very little programmatic hierarchy. It essentially combines the functions related to meal preparation in all the aspects that bring people together: not a kitchen/living room/dining room but rather a versatile space for convivially receiving guests.

The other wings, more dedicated to sleeping areas, leave room for generous water spaces for bodily relaxation. One of these wings includes the owners’ private areas, while the guest rooms are laid out in the other. Dry and wet saunas and big showers punctuate the spaces of these volumes and give the premises a “lived-in” look and feel. Outside, the traditional swimming pool has been replaced with a small coldwater pond that complements the sequence of saunas and steam baths of these pavilions.

One last volume, accommodating work places on two levels, is located away from the home’s living areas, separated by a protective outdoor space. This volume stands out for its somewhat symmetrical form, with a peaked roof, and is positioned upstream from the rest of the building to play the role of “guest wing” for visitors who sometimes come for business. Finally, the lower floor accommodates a work zone, a maintenance and do-it-yourself workshop.

This project’s materials were largely recycled: the interior and exterior wall claddings come from an abandoned sawmill, and the paving stones were recovered from an old quarry. The house faces south to allow a passive energy gain which, combined with a geothermal system, ensures overall energy efficiency.

The workmanship of each pavilion creates a heterogeneous whole, in light of the design approach that left room for “found material” (both for cladding and carpentry) instead of a rigid esthetic diktat. Ultimately, this is an earth-rooted architecture, produced with a completely different “design time”. The form emerges from the soil, but also from history, from a patient search for material that is “already there”. Its organic nature refers to our rural traditions rather than modernist canons calling for novelty at any price.


Photographs - James Brittain Photography

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