Alma 24 House / Maria José Benech + Stéphane Asselin

Alma 24 House / Maria José Benech + Stéphane Asselin

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Text description provided by the architects. The Alma-24 project is located on the northwest shore of Lake Saint-Jean, the third-largest lake in the province of Quebec (Canada). Offering breathtaking panoramic views, the shoreline landscape alternates between miles of sandy beaches and imposing rugged rocky surfaces. The site was home to an abandoned summer pavilion partially erected on the protected coastal strip. Sensitive to the protection of the territory and the revaluation of its natural features, the new owners wanted to build the single-family residence on a renaturalized site. The first stage of dismantling the deteriorated structures made it possible to restore the natural profile of the topography, revealing its original identity, and determining the location of the future residence while minimizing deforestation.

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The new house had to fulfill the role of a place for family gatherings and friendships and at the same time allow its residents to escape from the rhythm of urban life while ensuring a close connection with the landscape. The user and nature will then be placed at the center of the spatial concept and the architectural language will emphasize the local culture. The use of natural materials will be privileged to reinforce the wild authenticity of the place, assimilating the personality of the architectural interventions to the regional identity as well as to respond to considerations of resilience and durability of the different enclosures.

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The residence is positioned parallel to the shore, taking advantage of the imposing views over the lake and at the same time freeing the previously occupied coastal strip. The house presents an articulation in resonance with nature in the experience of living: formalizing a fusion with the rocks, a connection to the forest and a window on the lake. The desire to minimize the imprint of the building on the site imposed a two-level typology, the second of which seems to float above the site. Starting from the entrance to the site, using the unevenness of the terrain to reduce the impact of the building, the composition reveals only the semi-opaque facades of the upper volume, reserving the intimacy of the spaces facing the lake.

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Wild and native species, compatible with the climatic characteristics of the site, are articulated around the residence with the objective of, once mature, mimicking nature and restoring the original character of the property. Between a summer “summer house” experience, with its semi-outdoor spaces connected to the rocks and the beach, and a “winter cottage” above the infinite horizon of Lake Saint-Jean frozen in the warmth of the wood, Alma-24, reinforcing the links between architecture and the uniqueness of its context, offers its inhabitants a sensitive experience of the identity of the site through the four seasons. The Alma-24 residence has been chosen as a finalist in the 2023 Excellence in Architecture Awards of the Quebec College of Architects: https://www.oaq.com/ordre/prix/prix-dexcellence-en-architecture/prix2023-vote/alma-24/.

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