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The “Tree House” in Quebec’s Eastern Townships is the first house at Sanctuaire Mont Cathédrale, a unique, deluxe housing project designed to blend into its surroundings by using sustainable materials and technologies.
“The Sanctuaire is the result of more than ten years of reflection on one simple question: Do we have to be outside to experience nature?” says Pierre Léveillé, project designer. “We took our time to develop a concept that would correspond exactly with how we see the ecological house of today and tomorrow. To bring it to life, we went looking for the ideal environment, construction techniques, technologies and materials, and an architect who would understand what we wanted to do. We found Pierre Cabana, and today, we are happy to kick off this project with a house that perfectly demonstrates the potential and philosophy of Sanctuaire Mont Cathédrale to prospective owners.”
“In 25 years of experience, I have hardly met a client who had such a clear idea of what they wanted to build,” says Cabana. “However, the idea was simple. They wanted to build a house of the highest quality; a house with high-quality lighting, energy, materials, construction, and of course, a high-quality life style. I am so proud of the results, and I wish for only one thing: to start over.” Véronique Lacroix, orchestra conductor, adds, “The property’s exceptional acoustics give it a musical atmosphere filled with the sounds of nature.”
Forces of Nature
Situated on a large property of more than two hectares on the shores of Grand Lac Brompton, the Tree House uses art as much as architecture to blend into its surroundings. Inspired by a tree, the house’s first floor is covered in wood to represent a tree trunk. The much larger second floor is covered in copper tiles (leaves), which will, in time, develop a green patina, helping the house harmonize with the surrounding vegetation. An immense glass wall faces southeast on the front of the house and opens onto a 760 ft2 (70 m2) terrace looking out onto a panoramic view of the lake and neighboring mountains. The terrace is 180 ft (54 m) above lake level, creating a sense of weightlessness and direct contact with the natural elements.
Inside, the house is friendly and warm thanks to the judicious use of natural and manufactured materials. The marriage of wood, marble, quartz, steel, glass, and porcelain creates a harmonious connection with the natural environment. This is especially noticeable in the spectacular, exposed beams of Western Fir, made to be like the branches of the tree guiding the eye towards the lake and the surrounding forest.
Insulated with great care, the house has excellent energy efficiency. The heating system uses a combination of geothermal energy (heated floors), a Finish masonry heater made of soapstone, and a bi-energy (propane-electric) system. In addition, the glass wall increases the energy efficiency of the house. In winter, sunlight comes in and reduces heating costs; in summer, electric, automatic awnings keep the interior cool.
The Mont Cathédrale property covers a total of 16 hectares (40 acres) and will house 10 to 15 residences. Each residence will be built on 2 to 4 acres (8,000 to 16,000 m2) of land or more. Waterfront lands are still available. Mountain residences will have 20 ft (6 meters) of waterfront access where a private pier can be installed. To increase privacy, the Sanctuaire is separated from the property’s main gate by a large wooded area, which will stay uninhabited.
Location: Grand Lac Brompton, Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada
Architect: Pierre Cabana
Engineer: Comtois, Blouin & associate
Designers: Pauline Tremblay et Pierre Léveillé
Project Manager: Pierre Léveillé
Master-Builder: Alain Lizotte
Photographs: Richard Poissant – Pierre Léveillé