At the base of a ski hill in southern Ontario, the Alpine chalet is a second home for a family of six. Inspired by local barns in the surrounding area, the chalet’s reductive, monolithic form sits comfortably within the landscape.
“AKB’s design is understated yet beautiful,” explained the homeowner. “They are quiet architects – in voice and in style. There is almost a Zen quality to their work and I appreciated but pushed that by also wanting my home to have strong color and playfulness.”
Although the barn-like form is familiar, the design, particularly on the interior, challenges expectations. The majority of the interior is a luminous, double-height space, essentially one room wide. Regularly syncopated windows break down the form’s solidity and offer porous views through the building. A gabled roof soars above without the interruption of beams or dividing walls while the main focal point is a three-sided floating fireplace that drops through the interior as a vertical mass of Indiana limestone as if to secure the airy house to its site.
The master suite is nestled into a single height volume at one end of the interior with the children’s bedrooms and bathrooms on a mezzanine above so that each has its privacy, but they are still interconnected. Under the exterior gabled roof, independent peaked ceilings are constructed within each of the children’s bedrooms to create four archetypal ‘houses’, whereby windows, doors and roofline are conceived as minimal elements. The pairs of girls and boys rooms each share en-suite bathrooms, with colour-coded tiles.
The chalet is simultaneously elegant and relaxed, for example mixing children’s drawings with those of signature artists. The serene architecture serves as a canvas for the bustle of the household while it also tempers the busy activities carried on within. “The chalet is well used and happily abused by my family,” explains the homeowner. “In any given weekend I am cooking for 20 and it is definitely the place where all our friends like to hang. I like that it is an easy place for our friends to drop by and settle in for a visit.”