The Minton Hill House is spoilt for views. Situated in Eastern Townships, Quebec, the contemporary home design was completed in 2009 by Montreal-based architecture practice Affleck + de la Riva Architects (founded in 1995 by Gavin Affleck and Richard de la Riva).
The specific location of the home is on Lakeside Lookout, once the site of a rest stop on a historic bridal trail. As the name suggests, the site offers completely uninterrupted views over the northern end of Lake Massawippi. The home reacts to this setting in several interesting ways.
First, and most obviously, there’s that remarkable floating butterfly roof, which represents a pleasing contemporary update of a mid-century design staple. This form of roof—characterised by an inversion of a standard roof form, with two roof surfaces sloping down from opposing edges to a valley near the middle of the roof—also happens to be a mainstay of the local Eastern Townships farmhouse vernacular.
Yet here it is used to join two distinct spaces of the contemporary style home, in a really nice bit of layout arrangement. On one side the roof covers a central living space, and on the other side it covers a smaller home office space, in which there is also a small conservatory looking out onto the lake.
Meanwhile, the middle of the roof offers shelter for a passage from the front entrance to the back garden. Combined with a paving stone path, this passageway acts to frame those enticing views, so that you’re invariably attracted to walk on through.
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Besides the roof, this kind of visual signposting is demonstrated throughout the structure. The two different spaces are marked by distinct materials. Whereas the smaller space is predominantly clad in thin horizontally-arranged wood panels (stained in a rich reddish-brown polish), in the larger space, this red panelling takes a peripheral role to the large grey bricks, and an expanse of floor-to-ceiling windows.
Likewise, the cosiness of the central space is heavily emphasised by the presence of a large stone hearth in the centre of the living space.
As well as providing a focal point for the central living area, the hearth also has the effect of both cooling the space during the summer months and providing an extremely effective source of warmth in the winter, not just as a fireplace but also as a heat sink drawing warmth from the low sun.
It’s difficult to find recent information about Affleck + de la Riva: their website is down and there are only occasional features of projects from half a decade ago. While it might be safe to assume the company is no longer operating, we hope either Affleck or de la Riva are continuing, in some capacity, to produce projects as lovely as this.
Photos by Marc Cramer