By : Expérience Sisu & M2L IMMOBILIER
GRANDS PRIX DU DESIGN – 16th edition
Discipline : Architecture
Categories : Special Award / Architecture + Glass : Platinum Winner
Categories : Residential Building / Tiny/Small House < 500 sq.ft. (< 50 sq.m.) : Gold Certification
Stoik construction and RODCO
Plans and design
Laury-Jane Mondoux Poirier, Simon Rodrigue RODCO and Francis Dupuis
Here is a surprising and creative aesthetic proposal for a vacation chalet. At first sight, the Hygge seems to float in the air through the trees thanks to its steel structure and its first floor made entirely of bay windows reflecting nature at 360 degrees. At first glance, it’s possible to feel a sense of well-being. The combination of cedar and black slate through this nature makes the atmosphere of the most intimate, warm and brings a positive state of mind provided by a moment considered comforting, pleasant and friendly. This mini shell of 40m2 reminds us of Norwegian constructions with a little something intriguing that makes us want to know more and discover what is hidden inside. As we step inside, our breath is literally taken away by its all-glass first floor and its framework – its V-shaped steel structure, its majestic cedar ceilings and its continuity effect that runs from top to bottom, from inside to outside. Its open-plan space with a bay window allows users to admire nature in complete privacy thanks to the mirror effect and to take a shower or a bath with the simple impression of being outside, in the middle of nature. The choice of earth-toned flooring with a funky touch to the wall covering makes the place completely HYGGE. Located at an altitude of 435 meters, it is on the second floor that you can see the mountains through the forest.
With the ever-increasing popularity of social media, such as Pinterest and Instagram, users of tourist rentals are looking to be dazzled, even impressed, and have a different experience. Hygge was designed to meet their growing needs. It has a rectangular base of 20m2 to maximize space and avoid the trap of enfilade plans by ending its volume in a triangular scalene rectangle shape. Scalene triangles are not commonly found in architecture although they are essential to the construction and design of a building. The insertion of the rectangular window on the upper floor allows for the viewing of the stars after dark. This is what makes Hygge and all its material so innovative. It feels deeply rooted and solid like the roots of a tree, with its shape and steel structure and its huge crossbeams. Hygge respects its environment and enters into a symbiotic relationship with nature. The cathedral-like high ceilings and the roof of the building create a sense of grandeur.
Despite the great challenges we are currently experiencing, the world today is facing a looming climate crisis. So we asked ourselves: what can we do on a human scale to be part of the change while expecting profitability from our investments? Invest in short-term rental real estate with sustainable characteristics. Despite the dark side of short- term rentals such as the allocation of long-term rental housing availability, the demand for short-term rentals is growing month after month. People are realizing that weekends away from home and weeks at the cabin are now an accessible product. The current stress in our society is increasing the desire to get away from it all, to relax, take care of ourselves, to spend time away from home in an environment that makes us feel good, is a viable option. The Hygge has been designed to provide a simple experience and to finally « take a break » and experience the power and benefits of « reconnecting » with nature. With its 40m2 of living space and its simplistic and uncluttered design, it gives the user the opportunity to live in the moment and to realize that it takes « little » to be happy and that a larger living space is not a requirement for happiness. We realize that it is possible to live and occupy our daily activities simply. Each interior space has been thought out and calculated to provide maximum ergonomics and utility for the user. The effect of the bay windows, the cathedral ceiling and the large exterior terrace overlooking nature leads the users to meditate and contemplate. Everywhere they look, nature will manifest itself and call out to them.
With 20 years of experience in construction, Simon Rodrigue, contractor at RODCO and co-owner of the Hygge, designed the construction plans with the help of the other two co-owners, Francis Dupuis and Laury-Jane Mondoux Poirier, as well as the external help of an engineering firm in order to respond to the complexity of the project: a fully glazed first floor, a rectangular cathedral-style roof with fully glazed front and rear elevations, as well as a rectangular glazed insert. Thanks to their combined experience, they were able to overcome several challenges and constraints related to the construction of the Hygge, which is located on a 4-hectare forest lot and in a recreational and tourist area. The Hygge is the first Scandinavian-style « mini-chalet » to be built in Quebec, with a rectangular base entirely made of glass. The Hygge is the second project of the same type by Laury Jane Mondoux Poirier with the Lagöm, its elder brother.
CREATIVITY, ORIGINALITY AND INNOVATION
At the time of the Hygge’s construction, the trend of « mini-homes », « mini-chalets » and « glamping » was still very unpopular, even unknown in the construction field in Quebec among municipalities. An innovative project with an entirely glazed rectangular base built in a northern country with temperatures that can reach -40 in winter and a triangular scalene roof. The two biggest challenges of this project were to ensure the functionality of the building’s thermal bridges and to ensure the overall stability of the building with the bracing. The Hygge zoning allowed, among other things, the construction of a « rustic relay ». Financial institutions, municipal inspectors and planners did not believe in it at all. We were far from imagining at the time that a « rustic relay » type building, as designated by the municipality of Lac-Beauport, could one day resemble the Hygge. That’s why since its construction in 2020, a hundred or so cabins of the same type and style have sprung up all over Quebec, glamping having become the newest form of « ready- to-camp ». This is how financial institutions have slowly but surely shown an openness to mortgage financing for this type of construction and how many municipalities have adjusted their zoning by laws to allow for the creation and existence of such a project. Hygge has been the subject of several television programs and has been quoted in several design and tourist accommodation articles
CREATIVITY, ORIGINALITY AND INNOVATION (CONTINUATION)
In order to respect the norms and references of construction required by the municipality of Lac-Beauport, the future building had to be of the « rustic relay » type having for only access to a 2km gravel forest road, to have no foundation, to have a maximum height of 8 meters, a habitable surface on the ground respecting 20m2, no access to conventional electricity, and to be built at a distance of 10 meters from a sector of strong slope. Among all these challenges, the biggest were to find the best way to exploit this forest lot and its location at 435 meters above sea level, to respect nature, to build according to the north-east orientation of the land, to exploit the sunset and to anchor the building well in order to withstand wind gusts in the mountain that can sometimes reach 150 km/h. The Hygge and its terrace were built on 14 sonotubes. As one of the most rot-resistant and low-maintenance wood species, cedar was chosen for this project to last over time as it also acts as a repellent to invasive species such as carpenter ants resident in the boreal forest surrounding the building. The building also features a slate roof cladding and transparent walls, tempered glass thermos windows that are weather resistant!
The Hygge is one of the pioneers of the « Scandinavian mini-chalet » category in Quebec and remains a unique project to this day. Since its launch in July 2021, its monthly rental rate has never decreased and has reached 98%, attracting people from all over the world to live a unique experience, a total immersion in nature. The biggest challenge was thermal bridges and insulation, given the absence of walls found in a conventional building. The orientation of the building allows the building to be tempered and warmed by its entirely glazed base, its façade, its rear elevation and its entirely glazed rectangular insertion. The addition of a mirror film on its base also allows the regulation of the ambient temperature during the summer season.
SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY
Respect for nature was one of the first construction issues. Despite the possibility of having a view at an altitude of 435 meters, the chalet was placed in a small clearing and the trees were kept, which makes the place more intimate. The Hygge is a sustainable housing project with its choice of materials that encourage a healthy lifestyle through access to nature, whether in terms of health through the consumption of high quality water and the purity of the air breathed from the mountains, in addition to relying on the absence of several chemicals for the construction of its habitat. All these characteristics meet the needs of people who want to take care of themselves, to get out of their traditional living environment, to live experiences that reduce their ecological footprint, to participate in encouraging change to the climate crisis by investing their savings in places that respect the environment. The Hygge offers the opportunity to recharge your batteries in a unique and energizing place.
EVOCATION OF EMOTIONS AND AMUSING DETAILS
Although the photos of the Hygge are beautiful, users report that they do not convey the great feeling they have of the place. Users see a sense of tranquility, away from the world and its turmoil.
Since 2021, there have been 5 marriage proposals held there. Its south-western orientation allows to experience incredible sunsets. Far from the light pollution, we can see the Milky Way, aurora borealis, new landscapes always more dazzling than the others.
One has the feeling of being « alone in the world », of feeling different beneficial atmospheres, sometimes luminous, sometimes misty. Even in winter, the snowflakes are huge and the trees look like snowmen. At the Hygge, inside and outside, you can finally breathe and feel like you are alone in the world, at only 30 minutes from Quebec City. It’s a paradise where it’s good to practice mindfulness and contemplate things in retrospect without judgment and with love, discovering a whole new state of mind. Every minute there is a dose of comfort, of healing where the insurmountable becomes definitely surmountable! Do you want to live a « glamping » experience? Put the « Hygge » experience on your list.