At the Core of This Glassy Holiday Home: an Actual Apple Tree
Kanebridge News
Share Button

At the Core of This Glassy Holiday Home: an Actual Apple Tree

Architect Maxime Frappier has designed a series of modern houses, including one for himself with a tree growing out of its courtyard.

By Nancy Keates
Fri, Aug 12, 2022 9:51amGrey Clock 5 min

One of Maxime Frappier’s early designs for his dream holiday house in Saint-Donat, a small town 136kms north of Montreal, was completely round, like a hockey puck. A model shows it spiralling in a circle, looking somewhat like an Apple store version of a white spaceship.

“It was the best house I’ve ever drawn,” says Mr. Frappier, 45, a principal in Montreal-based architectural firm ACDF.

His wife, Marie-Andrée Lahaie, 45, a psychologist, pointed out the impracticalities. It would be difficult to put furniture in a house with curved concrete walls. The cost to build it would be too high, she said.

“It was not well received,” says Mr. Frappier “So I changed strategies.”

The finished house is still decidedly modern—almost transparent with glass walls, a flat roof and a minimalist aesthetic. But he squared off the curves, resulting in a series of boxes and a rectangular central courtyard.

Located on a 6-acre lot he bought for about US$233,000, it has 371sqm  on its two levels, four bedrooms, three bathrooms and cost about US$681,000 to construct. It was finished in 2021.

The focal point is an apple tree, planted in a courtyard and visible on all sides through glass walls. The tree is a nod to the apple orchard where he spent summers as a child, creating houses out of empty apple crates in the centre courtyard with his siblings. Eventually, the apple tree will grow through the opening above and shade the house.

The main living area of the house, with the kitchen and living room, is transparent and made of glass. Sitting in the media room, looking at it across the courtyard, gives the impression of watching a play. Mr. Frappier intentionally made it so that someone walking out from the more private bedroom boxes of the house can see from afar what’s happening in the kitchen, allowing what he calls a gradual transition from being alone to being together.

The colour scheme is black and white, with black counters, cabinets and door frames set against the stained white pine on the ceilings. The floors are grey concrete and the cedar on the exterior is stained black.

Despite its lack of curves, Mr. Frappier says he is happy with the final design. “Limitations catalyze new ideas,” he says.

Finding a balance between creativity and practicality, or, as Mr. Frappier puts it, “European flamboyance and North American pragmatism,” is what dominates his growing body of work. ACDF has won many prestigious awards for its portfolio of hotels, office and residential buildings and arts centres across North America and Asia.

Though his ultimate goal is to design an iconic building somewhere like New York or Chicago, a no-holds-barred commission, Mr. Frappier says he knows that the real achievement is to come up with ideas and fresh insights for every project he does. The challenge is to infuse imagination and emotion in a manner that meets the demands of the site, budget and clients needs, he says.

This duality of creativity and constraint is illustrated in a series of single-family homes he has designed in the lake- and mountain-filled region of northern Quebec. His clients say that even though they were aware of Mr. Frappier’s modern aesthetic, they were still surprised—one used the word “shocked”—by the first designs he presented to them.

“What he came up with was not at all what I asked for,” says Stephanie Daignault, 49, who hired Mr. Frappier to design a new 929sqm holiday cottage for her family of four, estimated to cost around US$5.44 million, currently under construction along the shores of Lake Archambault in Saint-Donat.

Ms. Daignault requested a traditional, Western-style house with a sloped roof. What she is getting is a “modern reinterpretation,” says Mr. Frappier, with enormous glass windows and a massive flat roof, part of which cantilevers over the back patio.

Still, Ms. Daignault says she loves it because it represents the fundamentals of her request, with the warmth she was seeking with lots of wood and stone, but at a “higher level.”

“If I had done what I wanted at the beginning I’m not sure I would have liked it as much,” she says.

Another, more extreme, example of injecting individuality, despite a limited budget, is a house Mr. Frappier designed for Olivier Cuilleret, 47, a headhunter, and Denise Bernachez, 45, a sales executive, on the shores of Lake Ouareau near Saint-Donat.

To keep the cost at around US$428,000 for the four-bedroom, 260qm  house, Mr. Frappier kept most of the windows and doors at a standard size and made the structure simple enough that any local contractor could easily build it.

What makes it stand out is its ceiling: Mr. Frappier used white pine, shaping it in a curve like the hull of a wooden boat and lowering it to 8 feet as it approached the glass doors to maintain a more affordable, standard height, then letting it soar back up to 12 feet at the centre of the room. “It’s only one gesture but it makes a huge difference,” says Mr. Frappier.

Mr. Frappier’s most well-known house is a 130qm addition, which cost about US$311,000 to build, at a holiday home along Lake Ouareau. Called Chalet La petite soeur, or “little sister,” it was built in 2018 for Benoit Dubord, 48, a lawyer and entrepreneur, who had recently remarried and wanted a house that would look both to the past and the future for his blended family.

To blend the old and the new, Mr. Frappier designed the addition as an exaggerated, modern version of the traditional, rustic Canadian log cottage that was already there. It mimics the pitched roof, but is pointier and clad in sheet metal; it also has wood siding, but it is painted all white. The addition has polished concrete floors and floor-to-ceiling glass in the back, looking out to the lake. A glass bridge with wood floors and ceilings connects the old to the new.

Such individuality can also mean a house can be tricky to sell, which Mr. Dubord is trying to do at the moment. He recently listed the house for $1.56 million. “You need someone who appreciates the contrasts,” says Mr. Dubord.

As Mr. Frappier found, even selling individuality to his own wife was tricky. But he hasn’t given up on his dream hockey puck-like house. He’s just waiting for the appropriate time and place, he says.

He estimates it would have cost about $389,000 more to build because everything would have had to be curved, including the windows, concrete foundation walls, exterior cladding, flat roof and gypsum wall.

Across the street in Saint-Donat, his wife’s parents live in a cozy traditional cottage. On a recent June morning, his mother-in-law, Lyse Lahaie, 72, a retired teacher, joked that she has an idea of when that appropriate time and place might occur.

“One day, I’m sure, when we are gone, Maxime will tear this down and make a modern house,” she says.

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: August 11, 2022.

 

 



MOST POPULAR
11 ACRES ROAD, KELLYVILLE, NSW

This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

Related Stories
Property
How much income is required to service a mortgage? It depends on where you live
By Bronwyn Allen 25/04/2024
Property
A Dramatic London Home in a Former Chapel That Starred in ‘Call the Midwife’ Is Renting for £39,000 per Month
By LIZ LUCKING 24/04/2024
Property
On the Market for the First Time, This Hamptons Beach House Is Listed for Nearly $26 Million
By CASEY FARMER 23/04/2024
How much income is required to service a mortgage? It depends on where you live

New research suggests spending 40 percent of household income on loan repayments is the new normal

By Bronwyn Allen
Thu, Apr 25, 2024 3 min

Requiring more than 30 percent of household income to service a home loan has long been considered the benchmark for ‘housing stress’. Yet research shows it is becoming the new normal. The 2024 ANZ CoreLogic Housing Affordability Report reveals home loans on only 17 percent of homes are ‘serviceable’ if serviceability is limited to 30 percent of the median national household income.

Based on 40 percent of household income, just 37 percent of properties would be serviceable on a mortgage covering 80 percent of the purchase price. ANZ CoreLogic suggest 40 may be the new 30 when it comes to home loan serviceability. “Looking ahead, there is little prospect for the mortgage serviceability indicator to move back into the 30 percent range any time soon,” says the report.

“This is because the cash rate is not expected to be cut until late 2024, and home values have continued to rise, even amid relatively high interest rate settings.” ANZ CoreLogic estimate that home loan rates would have to fall to about 4.7 percent to bring serviceability under 40 percent.

CoreLogic has broken down the actual household income required to service a home loan on a 6.27 percent interest rate for an 80 percent loan based on current median house and unit values in each capital city. As expected, affordability is worst in the most expensive property market, Sydney.

Sydney

Sydney’s median house price is $1,414,229 and the median unit price is $839,344.

Based on 40 percent serviceability, households need a total income of $211,456 to afford a home loan for a house and $125,499 for a unit. The city’s actual median household income is $120,554.

Melbourne

Melbourne’s median house price is $935,049 and the median apartment price is $612,906.

Based on 40 percent serviceability, households need a total income of $139,809 to afford a home loan for a house and $91,642 for a unit. The city’s actual median household income is $110,324.

Brisbane

Brisbane’s median house price is $909,988 and the median unit price is $587,793.

Based on 40 percent serviceability, households need a total income of $136,062 to afford a home loan for a house and $87,887 for a unit. The city’s actual median household income is $107,243.

Adelaide

Adelaide’s median house price is $785,971 and the median apartment price is $504,799.

Based on 40 percent serviceability, households need a total income of $117,519 to afford a home loan for a house and $75,478 for a unit. The city’s actual median household income is $89,806.

Perth

Perth’s median house price is $735,276 and the median unit price is $495,360.

Based on 40 percent serviceability, households need a total income of $109,939 to afford a home loan for a house and $74,066 for a unit. The city’s actual median household income is $108,057.

Hobart

Hobart’s median house price is $692,951 and the median apartment price is $522,258.

Based on 40 percent serviceability, households need a total income of $103,610 to afford a home loan for a house and $78,088 for a unit. The city’s actual median household income is $89,515.

Darwin

Darwin’s median house price is $573,498 and the median unit price is $367,716.

Based on 40 percent serviceability, households need a total income of $85,750 to afford a home loan for a house and $54,981 for a unit. The city’s actual median household income is $126,193.

Canberra

Canberra’s median house price is $964,136 and the median apartment price is $585,057.

Based on 40 percent serviceability, households need a total income of $144,158 to afford a home loan for a house and $87,478 for a unit. The city’s actual median household income is $137,760.

 

MOST POPULAR

Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

Related Stories
Money
What’s worse than having an affair? Lying about money
By Bronwyn Allen 12/04/2024
Property
Return to Work Is Coming for Your Pandemic-Era Home
By LIBERTINA BRANDT 24/11/2023
Property
Freddie Mercury’s London Home Selling for the First Time Since He Lived There
By LIZ LUCKING 27/02/2024
0
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop