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2018 MCHAP

The Bridge House

Pierre Thibault

Shawinlgan, Canada

July 2016


Atelier Pierre Thibault


Claudia Campeau (Project leader)


Alexandre Marchand Gauthier


Maxime Brouillet


The family’s wish was to design a house that made living in the countryside – all year-round – comfortable and pleasant. They dreamed of a house that naturally called for gathering but also permit privacy. Views on the lake, the forest and the sky – where infinite number of stars appear at night – were to be considered as primary data in the design process. Part of the mandate was to maintain the initial ground footprint left by the foundation of an existing old house, its garage and a satellite building that were to be demolished. Due to a sloped site and winter conditions that make driving up and downhill hazardous, the client asked for the garage to be brought up higher and nearer to the road. By moving this volume – that hosts a gym on the lower floor and the garage on the upper floor – uphill, the courtyard framed by two dialoguing volumes is made possible. Connecting the two volumes is the passerelle, permitting the family to get from the garage to the house without having to step outside in the winter. The walk from the garage to the house is thought of as a visual experience: a sequence punctuated by windows framing chosen views on the surrounding nature. From the kitchen – the heart of the house – one can sight at the lake, the inner courtyard, the forest, the gym, the sky, the passerelle… A visual look around where architecture and nature blur together.


La Grande Passerelle is designed for a young family wishing to enjoy a peaceful lifestyle on the shores of a scenic lake in Quebec, Canada. Two volumes of wood anchored against a gentle slope generate a luminous inner courtyard delimited by the forest. The first, acting as a screen to the street, contains a luminous training room, located under the garage, which overlooks the private courtyard. Below, a second volume comprising the rooms seems to float above the fully fenestrated ground floor. The connection between the two volumes of wood is made by a large footbridge which penetrates the interior spaces of the house and projects itself towards the lake. The visitors reach the residence by the upper floor to discover step by step the living room, the kitchen and finally the lower level that opens generously on the backyard and the dock. The plays of transparency connect the different rooms of the house to the lake that the family can contemplate from all places.


The Grande Passerelle takes up the challenges of modern living in nature, in a rigorous climate. All year round, the veranda, an interior/exterior area, offers a pleasant protected space: the net walls keep mosquitoes away in the summer and the house itself blocks winds in the winter. The roof terrace is also a favorite spot where the family contemplates the landscape on starry nights. The family enjoys a house where they naturally gather in the large open living space. The bedrooms suggest moments of solitude where large windows harvesting natural light only permit nature as spectator. Somehow, from most rooms, one can sight at the whole site and house: a feature appreciated by the parents who can keep an eye on the kids while they are either swimming in the lake, playing in the courtyard, on the passerelle, in the forest…. It is a playful house; a family nest carefully weaved within the beautiful landscape of the Mauricie region.

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