Minton Hill House by Affleck + de la Riva Architects

December 3, 2009

Affleck + de la Riva Architects designed the Minton Hill House in North Hatley, Québec, Canada.

Full description after the photos….

Photography by Marc Cramer

Minton Hill House by Affleck + de la Riva Architects

Quebec’s Eastern Townships combine Appalachian topography with land shaped by more than two centuries of agriculture to create landscapes that are at once comforting, dramatic and profoundly human.  Minton Hill is the extension of a ridge that runs for twenty kilometres along the western shore of Lake Massawippi between the villages of Ayer’s Cliff and North Hatley.  Lakeview Lookout, the site of the Minton Hill House,  was originally a rest stop on a nineteenth-century bridal trail.  The lookout provides a dramatic 180-degree view over the northern end of Lake Massawippi and the surrounding countryside.

The Minton Hill House strikes a delicate balance between the engaging of its panoramic hilltop position and the provision of a protective domestic environment.  The house is at once an environmental filter, a view-framing device, and a series of interior and exterior gardens and courts.

The project is composed of four essential elements – the roof, the stone hearth, the wood shell, and the sun window.  Celebrating the house’s hilltop position with a spread-wing profile, the floating roof is the project’s defining symbol.  Its generous southern overhang provides the solar control of a vernacular Eastern Townships farmhouse in a contemporary architectural form.

The stone hearth is a folded plane of slate oriented directly south that functions as both an environmental control device and a cradle for the house’s main living and dining areas.  During the summer the house is shielded from the high, hot sun by the roof overhang and the stone hearth provides cooling to the main living spaces.  During the winter the stone hearth takes advantage of the low seasonal sun and a hot-water coil under the floor slab to become a passive heat sink.

Anchoring both ends of the house, the wood shell is a largely opaque cedar-clad volume that creates protected spaces for the more private accommodations of the bedrooms, the bathrooms, the home office and the kitchen.

The sun window is a commercial aluminium curtain wall that opens the southern wall of the main living area generously onto the landscape.  It provides eyes on the world for the house’s owner while welcoming summer light and winter sun into the heart of the house.

The wood shell and the exterior of the stone hearth combine on the north side to form a screen that marks the approach to the house.  The screen allows for the gradual revelation of the site’s spectacular view while also shielding the house from northern weather.  The home office is pulled away from the main body of the house, puncturing the screen to create an exterior passage that is at once a protection for the main entry, an exterior courtyard and a view-framing device.  The separation of two indoor spaces by the exterior passage – a feature found in traditional Japanese architecture – integrates the fresh air, material texture, smells, and sounds of the outdoors into the multi-sensory experience of this hill-top house.

Visit the website of Affleck + de la Riva Architects – here.