Maison Glissade is a country home in a community of modest chalets situated between a promontory of the Niagara Escarpment and Georgian Bay in the province of Ontario, Canada. The iconic design is derived from a contemporary interpretation of its localized context as well as the regional vernacular of agricultural buildings – namely the barn.
On a flat corner lot across from the base of a ski hill, the upper volume slides forward, gesturing to engage the opposing mountain slope. This shift defines the form, leaving a void at its north end and a cantilever at the south, conceptually alluding to the meaning of “glissade” – a ski manoeuvre in which one ski is placed in front of the other to control the speed of descent.
The client, a family of five, required a year round leisure home to serve as a hub for their active outdoor lifestyle; a chalet to cultivate familial interchange as well as a place of repose. Built within the footprint of an existing chalet, the house is discreet in scale, respecting the site and its context as well as reducing both construction costs and future energy consumption. A landscape of indigenous trees and grasses is planted around the base of the building which enhances the sense of tranquility evoked by the overall experience of the chalet.
Entry at the south- east is sheltered from prevailing westerly winds and a large mudroom is accessed directly off the entry corridor, with bedrooms and bathrooms beyond. The ground floor is elegant yet utilitarian in its layout which encourages its users to commune on the second floor within an open concept living, dining and kitchen area. To maximize the openness of this floor, a steel structure was used within the exterior framework and the layout designed free of interior partitions. Under a gabled roof, the upper level is fully glazed at either end with extensive views out to the surrounding countryside.
The interior space of the second storey is directly expressed on the exterior by the cantilevered upper volume which extends its roof plane over an outdoor balcony. By night, the exterior form is defined by the illumination of the interior on the upper level yet the long sides of both upper and lower volumes are dematerialized through a playful pattern of vertical window openings which glow from within. Natural day light is optimal on the communal level of the home while on the ground floor, smaller operable windows and their north-east orientation allow soft light to filter into the bedrooms and limit summer heat gain.
Heated by a hydronic radiant in-floor system throughout, the upper volume is supplemented by passive winter heat gain from the fully glazed south elevation. The carefully studied roof overhang allows the low lying winter sun to warm the south face while preventing summer heat gain. A combination of large rolling doors and tilt-turn windows, on all sides of the open plan second floor, facilitates passive ventilation in the summer months allowing this storey to perform as a breezeway. The windows are maintenance free energy efficient triple glazed fiberglass and wood construction.
Interior finishes were selected for their natural qualities and no adhesives or laminates were used. The material palette consists of white oak, concrete, and Corian and the exterior walls and roof are fully clad in boards of Western Red Cedar, a local and renewable resource. Coated in linseed oil, the cladding will weather with time. Applied to both walls and roof, the cedar board cladding is a technical innovation which enables a clear expression of the design intent, creating a unified volume.