Searching for the right spot to build their ideal retreat after selling their previous home in the country, a Montreal-based family of five thought they had hit the jackpot when they came across an empty plot of land in the Quebec mountains.

La Sentinelle
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The site proved to be the perfect location, with its ideal orientation and idyllic surroundings, and so the development commission went to Canadian architects NatureHumaine in August 2011. 'They found a parcel of land with southern exposure in the Lac-de-la-Cabane residential development that surrounds a lake and gives all its residents private access to it,' says the firm's Stephane Rasselet.

Due to the constraints posed by the rocky terrain, the architects designed the family home atop a plateau. The result is a two-level, L-shaped house with a folded sloping roof evocative of a bird's wing. 'We see the house as a bird sitting at the edge of the cliff overlooking the lake, which is where its nickname "The Sentinel" comes from,' explains Rasselet.

An exterior staircase leads to the top level of the house, which contains the living spaces, the master bedroom and a guest room. With the clients – a surgeon and an engineer – requesting acoustic separation between the playroom and the master bedroom and guest room, the lower level was designated the 'kids' zone'. It consists of the three boys' bedrooms and a games room that provides access to a football field next to the house.

In order to minimise costs, the architects ensured that the house could be built without any steel beams, instead opting for a standard wood frame construction. The exterior is clad in dark grey Goodfellow wood and the roof is covered in ribbed steel sheets with a bronzed zinc finish.

With its prime location in the idyllic residential development, generous spaces, plenty of daylight and private access to the nearby lake, it is safe to say that La Sentinelle fulfils its brief and beyond.