paul bernier’s chalet shaped by nature

overlooking a scenic lake in oka, canada, a timber-clad chalet by paul bernier architecte is nestled into the trees. the profile of the house is defined by the site’s natural characteristics, especially a 100-year flood line which must be kept intact. with these natural restrictions in mind, the particular angles of the house — namely those along the lake-facing facade — are informed by this flood line.  

with respect for its natural surroundings, the chalet in oka takes shape as a small cottage. with its humble size, the house is optimized according to the needs of its occupants. it stands as a wooden box enclosed by a thick white roof, which supports an elliptical volume that resembles the hull of a ship sailing toward the lake.

paul bernier chalet okaimages © raphaël thibodeau | @raphael_thibodeau

a boat in the trees of oka

the design team at paul bernier architecte continues to show the influence of the boat along the interior of its chalet in oka. the ‘bow’ of this boat is occupied by a master bedroom and expresses a series of steel columns that support the roof and offer a view across the lake and distant sunset. the architects note that the chalet’s owners have nicknamed the cottage ‘le bateau dans les arbres,’ or ‘the boat in the trees.’ the house sits along a quiet road, intriguing passersby and animating the neighborhood with its unusual stacked volumes.

paul bernier chalet oka

the sliding, semi-transparent walls

paul bernier architect wraps its chalet in oka with spaced cedar slats that offer an effect of semi-transparency. this strategy ensures natural sunlight through the façade while protecting the privacy of the occupants. these large slatted panels slide open and closed, allowing the occupants to transform the street-facing façade, and open up the ground floor living spaces toward the beach and the lake view in the rear. during the summer, when the sliding doors are open, the wind blows through the window veils, providing the sensation of sailing on the lake.

paul bernier chalet oka
the elliptical volume resembles a boat sailing toward the lake

paul bernier architecte nestles a modest chalet among the trees of oka, canada
the large white roof is supported by thin painted steel posts paul bernier architecte nestles a modest chalet among the trees of oka, canadathe roof is covered with plant life and a terrace accessible from the master bedroom