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One look at a Quebec home called Papillon is all you need to understand its name.
“We focused on the sloped roof as its main architectural characteristic and we had to enhance that feature. That strong visual line inspired us. We had to stretch it to the extremity and add a replica in the background, which gave it wings and dynamism, hence the butterfly,” explains architect Kim My Le Quoc.
Papillon is located the Montreal suburb of Mont-St-Hilaire overlooking the scenic Richelieu River. The house was first built as a split-level, with three bedrooms on the upper level and one bedroom on the main floor.
The revamp nearly doubled the size of Papillon, taking it to 3,000 sq. ft. from its original 1,524 sq. ft.
On the main level is a large kitchen, dining room and a sunken living room. Large windows and cathedral ceilings in the main living spaces draw in the early morning light. At the rear, a new solarium provides a perfect view of the river.
A three-storey extension was added and a staircase from the ground floor to the principal bedroom on the second level creates the feel of a secluded apartment. As well, the private retreat opens to a terrace, perfect for watching sunsets over the Richelieu.
The upper section of the original home is now a work-from-home space with a terrace on the garage roof.
The children’s quarters are on the garden (or lower) level of the extension, as is the family room which extends into the ground of the backyard and appears to be dug into the rock. A wooden walkway surrounds the yard winding its way down to the riverside dock.
Exterior treatments include white brick cladding and stone veneer in front, and white painted natural wood planks have been used on the rear facade facing the river. Le Quoc says the landscape architect made a great effort to connect the house to the river and preserve the shoreline.
Papillon took 10 months to design and build, and was completed in 2020.
Kim My Le Quoc, with Luc Plante, Architecture and Design Inc., in Saint-Lambert, Que., answers a few questions about Papillon:
What did the renovation and new construction involve?
Since we were located in a neighbourhood of interest, we were asked by the municipality to preserve and highlight the architectural characteristics of the original house.
The owners also made it a priority to maintain the existing foundations and core. Thus, we kept the floor levels, adjusted the layout and added floor space — a garage at street level and a full three-storey extension on the south side.
We separated the children and the parents on different levels allowing for space and intimacy.
How have you mixed the old and new?
The old part of the house is emphasized by the bright white brick cladding and that original volume is supported by the new ones clad in stone, a tint darker. Some wood inserts allow for a gentle mixing of both old and new, and add a warm texture.
What were your biggest challenges in designing the home?
One of the main challenges was to double the square footage of the house while maintaining the spirit and the nature of the original house. We were required to add living spaces around without drowning it under bigger volumes.
The geometry of the roof was also a critical challenge. While it was a strong architectural concept, it was important to anticipate the water management on the roof and control snow buildup and water pooling.
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