Slate House conceived as an in-situ installation that reveals a pre-existing landscape

Architects: Affleck de la Riva architects
Location: Laval, Québec, Canada
Year: 2010
Area: 2.756 ft²/ 256 m²
Photo courtesy: Alexandre Parent
Description:

“Slate House was conceived as an in-situ installation that reveals a pre-existing landscape. Approached as a comprehensive reconfiguration of an entire site, the project considers the house as one component of a greater whole.

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Located in Laval, a suburb of Montreal, the site is a residual parcel in a new subdivision laid out over historic farmland. The project preserves features pre-dating the subdivision including natural topography, a small stream, and a mature deciduous grove.

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Surrounded by lots whose terrain has been bulldozed to build tract houses, the project proposes an alternative: the conservation and enhancement of the site’s historic landscape and the reaffirmation of its agricultural and territorial memory.

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Slate House stands in sharp contrast to the tract houses that surround it. Orchestrating a progressive discovery from suburban street to interior courtyard to forest and stream, the house is a sheltered oasis in a unique pastoral setting. Two orthogonal volumes frame the courtyard and the natural change in grade from street to stream is used to slide a lower storey under the main level. Both floors open laterally to the courtyard, the stream, and the southwest sun.

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The program called for unique living accommodations that include a spacious garage and workshop for the owner’s collection of vintage automobiles and a full guest apartment. Located on the lower level, the guest apartment opens directly on the courtyard while the main living area above is connected to a wood gallery and a swimming pool.

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The building exterior combines natural slate shingles installed using traditional methods of assembly with sheet glass and factory-made aluminum windows. Commonly found in traditional religious architecture, the artisanal slate finds expression here as a resolutely contemporary material.

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Slate House integrates such sustainable features as geothermal and passive solar heating, natural water collection, local species of vegetation, and low-energy electrical fittings. By generously engaging its found landscape, the house initiates a fundamental connection between the inhabitant and the history and culture of a specific place.”

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