While relationships between sisters can sometimes be fractious, there is no sibling rivalry when it comes to Quebec architect ’s contemporary addition to a rustic rural home in the North Shore town of La Malbaie, wittily called Les soeurs.
The existing house – a former hunting lodge that was also once the summer retreat of the Montreal-based Sisters of Charity, a.k.a. The Grey Nuns – had been occupied sporadically by Péloquin’s urbanite clients for six years before they decided to expand it. Instead of renovating the house, which is located on a secluded lakeside lot, they opted to add a new extension.
Péloquin’s design, which adroitly marries the rusticity of the original “big sister” with a striking yet equally modest younger sibling, respects both its forebear and the surrounding landscape. To ensure strong integration, the volume of the new structure, which is clad in tamarack wood and features a steeply sloping roof on the north and east side, was defined before the interior was laid out.
On the west and south sides, the roof’s overhang allows for low outside walls that harmonize with the scale of the older house. The proportions also align with the lake and the tree line on its far shore. To the east and north, the roof rises more than 25 feet off the ground to the ridgepiece, echoing the surrounding trees and a nearby church steeple.
Inside, the angles created by the sharply rising roof define the look and scope of a living/dining area and the master bedroom, the only room on the second floor. A kitchen, a second bedroom and a bathroom round out the ground floor. Walls made of knotty pine stained white contrast with darker wide-plank floors and softly diffuse the light.
As envisioned by Péloquin, the newly expanded home isn’t intended to dominate the landscape, but to be a part of it. The big sister (now a bunkhouse for guests) “bears witness” to the history of the place, while the addition (scaled to the site both creatively and sympathetically) creates a new chapter. The result is the architectural equivalent of family unity.