Virgin Vineyard House
By : LAMAS Architecture
GRANDS PRIX DU DESIGN – 16th edition
Discipline : Architecture
Categories : Residential Building / Cottage & Country House : Gold Certification
Categories : Residential Building / Private House > 2 000 pi2 (> 185 m2) : Gold Certification
Situated between an old farm road and a working hillside vineyard, the Virgin Vineyard house takes its name from a farm whose ruins once stood above the site. The client was interested in building a new residence on this land, with minimal disturbance to the vineyard while capturing the views of the site overlooking Lake Massawippi in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. The new building will house the client with the ability to age in place and accommodate her daughter’s growing family.
The design of the project takes inspiration from the prevalence of fieldstone walls in the local agricultural landscape. Gathered stones start as a landscape feature to separate the house from the road and ultimately comprise the north wall of the building. The architectural element is but a secondary feature clipped on to this stone wall, sheltering the living spaces from the road, the northerly winds, and discreetly tucked into the hillside. The length of the wall enacts the sequence through the house, punctuated as it is by compositional events of window, chimney, entry and courtyard. The southside of this long linear residence is open to lake and vineyard views under a large protective overhang.
This 155’ long house conveniently organizes the private bedrooms at either end while the central gathering spaces convene in the middle of the linear house. The walls dividing each room are purposefully rotated to face the lake view. This simple geometrical twist creates an oblique relationship of the rooms to the roof ridge line, making each room feel like a private shed, each with its unique volume directed towards the lake. In plan, the rooms are arranged in a sawtooth formation, creating recesses of semi private space under the large roof overhang to contemplate the view. Within this seemingly simple building are two large voids, one a courtyard framing the angle of the logging road, and the other a roof deck overlooking the entirety of the vineyard.
The building is meant to elucidate a relationship between a stone wall and wood tectonics. After the heavily insulated stone wall on the north side, the majority of the construction materials are wood. For the main part of the house this refers to light wood framing, either with studs, engineered lumber or deep joists. On the south facade however, wood is employed structurally in the mullions of the wood glazing system, a highly performative envelope with triple glazing throughout.
Wood construction was of interest in order to keep the embodied energy and carbon footprint down but it also allowed for a well insulated envelope. Beyond the environmental aspect though, the lumber, hemlock cladding, stone and even the high performance glazing systems were all local to Quebec. Even the geothermal ground source heating was not just a “de rigeur” systems choice, but is particularly advantageous in Quebec where plentiful carbon free municipal electricity could power the heat pumps. Foremost in our minds was this connection to the location through materials and craft, but also the traditional forms of Quebec architecture. The owner is currently working with a local horticulturalist to plant indigenous flora to support the natural habitat of the site.