A-frame design of Quebec vacation home features alpha marine flag

Quebec architect Olivier Bourgeois says it was the collaboration between graphic designers and architects that created the nautical magic in the design of Cabin A.

“Working with graphic designers on this project helped us make key design decisions and develop a solid concept,” says Bourgeois.

The connection between the A-frame design of the residential structure and the alpha marine signal flag was developed by graphic designers from the firm Bourgeois Lechasseur Architectes.

Cabin A rises on the side of a hill, near Le Massif ski resort in the Charlevoix region of Quebec, like an ocean-going vessel with sails tilted in the wind. Located in Petite-Rivière-St-François, an hour’s drive from Quebec City on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, it measures 2,400 square feet and is part of a group of houses being built as vacation homes. .

The attic cantilevered over the sunken terrace and provided ample space for a children's playroom.

The living room, dining room and kitchen area are located on the main level. A dramatic pitched roof covers the entrance to the residence. A small attic room extends from the second level, creating a covered porch that extends from the dining area below.

The lower level has three similar sized bedrooms instead of having one master suite. There is also a dormitory with bunk beds to create more sleeping space for children, as well as a recreation area.

Construction materials include Russian plywood, dark metal roof and dark wood exterior cladding. Durable features include roof projections limiting the sun’s rays during the summer. In winter, the heat is captured by the thermal mass of the concrete. There is also underfloor heating on each level.

Completed in 2019, Cabin A took 10 months to design and build.

The dining room leads to a terrace with a cantilevered attic above which is accessed by the ladder at the end of the kitchen.
The covered terrace on the ground floor is suspended above the steep hill.

Olivier Bourgeois, associate architect at Bourgeois Lechasseur Architectes, in Quebec, answers some questions about Cabin A:

How did you come up with the name Cabin — or Cabin — A?

The graphic design team got there late in the design phase. They found a visual association between the alpha signal flag – meaning a craft has a diver down and to avoid the boat – and the angular shape of the roof.

It was unexpected. But we loved this idea and the possibilities with other graphic nautical symbols for future cabins.

Can you explain more about Angular design?

We like to work with simple form angles and deformations. For this, we wanted to start with one A-frame on top of another, and have the slope of the roof cover the entrance.

We also used the corners to provide some privacy. The shape puts a strong imprint in the landscape, easy to recognize.

The cloakroom near the main entrance includes plenty of storage, coat hooks and benches.

What challenges did you encounter when creating Cabine A?

The main challenge was to design a modest project that could meet the rental demand of the area. We wanted to be more attractive than some competitors around, with an economical construction budget.

The hill gives us the opportunity to open up the lower floor and bring natural light into the living room. The hill is a bit difficult to access in winter and was difficult for excavation. But the result gives a good view of the angular roof from the upper road access.

We like to play with the contrast of a discreet front at the finish, and more open at the back.

Nautical touches to the residence include a boat ladder in the attic and a topographic panel of the area and the St. Lawrence River.

What nautical touches are there throughout the interior?

The bench seat in the living room refers to the cabin of the boat. The triangulated roof of the cabin is reminiscent of sails facing the wind while a large wooden deck evokes the upper deck of a ship with a breathtaking view of the river.

The use of wood paneling on the walls and ceiling of the shared living space further accentuates the analogy with naval architecture.

Georgie Binks is a Toronto-based writer and freelance contributor to The Star. Contact her at [email protected]

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