Maison Gauthier by Atelier Barda is a recent residence in the Laurentians, Québec, Canada. Situated on a hilly terrain, it is surrounded by a dense of forestry that is commonly found in this mountainous region. The plot is bounded to the east by the main road and to the west by the owners’ horse farm. The clients requested a volume with views that would largely oriented towards the horses’ riding arena below. At the same time, the clients wanted to take full advantage of the intimacy that was created by the topography of the lot. The forested berm that sits between the road and the house creates a visual filter that allows a sequential progression towards the building. The volume of the Maison Gauthier is not visible from the main road below, but it gradually changes, resulting in the imposing façade of the opaque brick with its single off-centered arch; this serves as the main entrance.
The client’s interest in American minimalist painters, paired with her ceramics studio influenced the composition of the floor plans and its interconnection of simple geometric shapes within the design of interior volumes. European stables and horse breeding centres were also explored during the initial design phase. Maison Gauthier is designed in an asymmetrical V plan that connects two distinct areas: a wing for the garage and the client’s ceramics studio, and a wing for the common living areas. The various spaces in Maison Gauthier are interconnected in a manner which creates a perceptual narrative for users and visitors, who experience alternating sensations of compression and expansion. The sensorial presence of simple raw materials which includes brick and oiled oak helps to create a tranquil atmosphere.
The asymmetrical volume and chiaroscuro effects of the spaces in the Maison Gauthier give it its uniqueness and internal atmosphere
From the entrance arch of the Maison Gauthier, the sequence marks a division between the service areas, the artist’s studio and more intimate and private family spaces. The curved corridor forms a threshold between the two wings. Its lowered ceiling produces a sensation of darkening and narrowing, which is starkly contrasted with the expansive volume and light of the main room at the end (interesting chiaroscuro effect). In this space, the high inclined ceilings are divided by two vertical veils that partition the kitchen, dining room and the living room without compartmentalising the volume.
All the along the façade, wide yet relatively low openings are carefully framed to direct the views towards the horses’ arena. The varying proportions create an interesting interplay between the interior and external spaces. Along the ceiling, skylights are oriented towards the east direct light and towards the lime-covered vertical veils, allowing natural ventilation of the main volume. These hollow volumes create a bright and luminous atmosphere.
The bedrooms and bathroom space are organised within the fold of the V-shaped volume house and are separated from the living area by a thick dividing wall. The variety of interior spaces contrasts with the apparent simplicity of the exterior volume.