Chelsea Hill House
Location: Chelsea, Québec
Dates: 2006 – 2008
Task: To create a small residence that allows growing teenagers privacy while simultaneously creating a large, more formal gathering area with significant views of a valley beyond.
Design Challenge: The logistical challenge was to create within a small home a segregation of spaces for the very different habits (privacy, acoustical, tidiness, etc.) of teenagers and adults while avoiding choppy spaces.
Design Solution: The house is conceived as a very simple masonry volume: “the foundation of the family” which overlooks a beautiful river valley. The spaces most used by the teenagers, their bedrooms, a TV area, and sports equipment storage, are all placed on the ground level. Durable surfaces such as a radiant concrete floor are used throughout this level. The formal areas of the house, the living area, dining area, kitchen, but also the master bedroom and bathroom, are all located upstairs and, as such, are given the most privileged views. Here, as well as on the stairway that leads to the main living level, more rich materials such as wood floors and glass railings are introduced with higher ceilings. While all of the noisy and messy areas fall out of view by being placed directly beneath the living areas, the two levels are joined by the double-height entryway and hallway below. In this way, the primary living level is perceived to float lightly above the serene vista beyond. Though the home is constructed of fundamentally simple, industrial materials, one significant “cushy” indulgence was included: a bathtub suspended in the double-height space that looks over the valley. This tub, sunken in the floor, is accessed from the master bedroom and, if needed, is closed off from the adjacent living area by a sliding frosted-glass screen.
The lightness of the interior living area is contrasted by the solidity of the exterior. In response to the project’s very modest budget, industrial concrete blocks were used as the exterior veneer, but in an unconventional manner: the rough material is arranged in a pinwheel pattern yielding a playful façade throwing deep shadows. Last, because the house is quite small for a large family, an exterior, screened-in living/dining area was designed for the flat roof. When completed, this space will be accessed by an exterior steel stair, linking the interior living area and exterior living area.