Designing architectural spaces that would contribute to protecting a centennial forest in Lanaudière; thus was the challenge that BESIDE gave to the APPAREIL Architecture team. Veritable ode to nature, the 75- cabin development was concentrated on a small portion of the vast 1254-acres terrain, to preserve the surrounding natural areas. The BESIDE chalets are inspired by the fundamental idea of a forest refuge. They marry design, minimalism and local materials. Through this project, the architecture firm puts forth compact and well-thought-out living spaces, eliminating anything superfluous to maintain only the essential; a vibrant space where nature and architecture meet.

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A unique implementation and volume

The architectural ambition behind the BESIDE chalets rests upon the premise that each terrain has its unique characteristics, whether it be a specific viewpoint or topography. The project’s design was therefore divided into 4 different typologies, allowing for flexible implementation into its environment. Here perched in the trees, there sitting in the hollow of a hill, each model is designed to highlight the site, minimize its footprint on the ground, and offer unique experiences.

The main cabin’s volume draws from the collective imaginary of the cabin in the trees, of the welcoming home. The geometry is composed of identifying elements, such as the sloping roof and the skylight. To offer more flexibility, an annexed construction, the Pod, can be attached to the cabin through a glass passage. Almost entirely independent from the main chalet, the Pod finds its place as one of the project’s signaling features.

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Spotlight on the patina

The challenge to surmount was steep: to offer an architecture that would seem familiar, as if it had always been concealed within the landscape – but which, at the same time, would have a novel dimension, of something unexpected and contemporary.

This guiding line is reflected across each scale of the project, through bold volumes and the use of materials in their raw state, without paint or artifice. Durability being essential, the outer coating of pre- aged cedar and the galvanized steel sloping roof ensure uniform aging, communicating the passage of time. Inside, the pine slats and the heated concrete floor lend a warm aspect to the space.

“We wanted to create living spaces that reflect our ability to adapt to the environment, which we do by offering different models of cabins located on lots with distinct vegetation and topography. You choose an architectural concept, not an address.” –Eliane Cadieux, chief creative officer and co-founder of BESIDE.

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A unifying architecture

In the main chalet, an open area punctuated by a high cathedral ceiling was designed to offer a connection between the living room and the kitchen, while encouraging gatherings around the island. The space is enveloped by generous panoramic windows that invite the forest and the landscape in. A soft light bathes the space by offering a play of shadows and leaves that come to life and evolve throughout the seasons. Visible from everywhere in the chalet, the traditional wood fireplace interrupts the panorama for the length of a warm reunion around the fire.

The kitchen is at the heart of each BESIDE cabin and is designed, in collaboration with À Hauteur d’homme, for communal food preparation. To offer a minimalist and optimized experience, it comprises a large volume of Russian birch which judiciously hides all the kitchen equipment and appliances. At the center of the space, the island is deployed, an imposing stainless steel structure that serves both as a workspace and as a large, convivial table.

At the top of the stairs, the cabin plunges us into the attic’s playful and intimate universe by situating the main bedroom at the summit of the mezzanine, in the loft. Hidden behind a partition made of openwork pine slats, the bedroom notably integrates a majestic skylight. This traditional element of the Canadian home is reinterpreted to offer a grandiose view onto the treetops and the stars.

Wishing to distance the cabin from its traditionally residential character and to emphasize its enveloping spirit, the entirety of the furniture and light fixtures are bespoke. The benches as well as the sofa, imagined by APPAREIL Atelier, host an apparent-wood structure, proposing legs that are massive and rhythmed. Continuing in the spirit of raw materials, APPAREIL Atelier participated to create a collection of lamps designed by Lambert & Fils that lend a unique ambiance to the space, by using aluminum tubes with a textured surface whose patina is highlighted.

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Designing better and smaller

The cabins designed by APPAREIL Architecture embrace Quebec’s Nordic roots and the uniqueness of the Lanaudière region. All while reinterpreting the architectural language of the forest refuge, the firm shares its know-how with BESIDE by offering compact and thoughtful living spaces. The project inscribes itself in an integration between architecture and nature, where the landscape is highlighted through each intervention, veritable return to essentials and to contemplation.

APPAREIL thanks its collaborators on this project: General contractor: Janson Construction Woodwork and stools: À Hauteur d’homme (HH) Light fixtures: Lambert et Fils

Furniture: APPAREIL atelier Photography: Félix Michaud

Project completed in collaboration with BESIDE


About APPAREIL Architecture

APPAREIL Architecture is a Montreal-based firm whose mission is to design quality residential and commercial environments that are tailor-made and unique for their residents. Our clean and contemporary signature is greatly inspired by our Nordic roots, and our projects reflect our desire to find balance between tradition and modernity. With the aim of improving its practice in sustainability, the firm obtained Ecocert’s ECORESPONSIBLE certification and participates in many mentorship programs such as Women4Climate.

APPAREIL Architecture’s work has been recognized and rewarded throughout the years, notably through receiving the OAQ’s “Relève en Architecture 2020” award and the “Public’s Choice” award at the AZ AWARDS 2020, for the Le Dernier Petit Cochon project. In 2019, the firm was a double-laureate at the “Grands Prix du Design” awards for the Pastel Rita project and the Floe chair. The firm was also the recipient of Canadian Interior’s “Best of Canada” prize in 2017 for the Hoogan & Beaufort restaurant.

About BESIDE

Founded in Montréal in 2016, BESIDE was born of the desire to create a media brand situated at the crossroads of nature and culture, far from the frenzy of hot takes and polarizing discourses. Its small team of passionate creatives quickly expanded to include collaborators from across North America – architects, artist, journalists, and photographers – driven to create a world that supports all living beings.

Five years later, BESIDE boasts nearly 100,000 copies sold, a bilingual digital platform, collaborations with international media such as Radio-Canada and gestalten, numerous prizes, a collection of objects with Fabrique 1840 and a first BESIDE Habitat, in the wilds of Lanaudière in Québec.

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Rethinking The Future (RTF) is a Global Platform for Architecture and Design. RTF through more than 100 countries around the world provides an interactive platform of highest standard acknowledging the projects among creative and influential industry professionals.

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