Minton Hill House

Affleck_delariva Affleck + de la Riva Architectes

By Abby Bussel

Rendered in cedar, slate, and glass, the Minton Hill House in North Hatley, a village in the agricultural Eastern Townships of Quebec, is the primary residence of a musician who required a dedicated workspace in addition to living quarters. It occupies a four-acre hilltop in this historically agricultural region, in the sugar bush of a former dairy farm, and its long, narrow footprint is sited parallel to the slope of the hill.

By dividing the 1,700-square-foot program into two separate volumes under a single roof, Affleck + de la Riva Architectes of Montreal has produced a clear distinction between the client's personal and professional lives. (The larger piece contains living spaces as well as two bedrooms; the smaller one an office.) The covered, open-air space between these distinct domains marks the entrances to the residence and the owner's office, while framing the view of Lake Massawippi in the valley below. The butterfly roof—comprising a steel primary span supported by steel columns and a secondary span of prefabricated wood trusses—appears to float above the inhabited volumes, emphasizing the hilltop locale.

Materials and orientation address conditions of site and climate through passive energy strategies. The Minton Hill House's heavily glazed south side has a deep overhang for solar control, while its north face is more opaque and has a narrow soffit. The north wall of the main living space is clad in blue slate inside and out—a material that also slides down to become the flooring for the living and dining areas. This expanse of stone is oriented to the south in an effort to capture and retain heat from the low winter sun flowing through the aluminum-and-glass curtain wall.

Like the local farmhouses with deep eaves it is meant to evoke in spirit, if not form, the Minton Hill House aims to work in unison with its environment.

Photographs by Marc Cramer