The Frame House in Invermere, Canada | Marc Boutin


Canadian architect Marc Boutin designed the Frame House in Invermere, British Columbia, Canada:

This design for a young family of five is conceived of as an object sitting within a recreational landscape. The house is not only the space for living, but also becomes a tool by which one’s senses of the natural environment are heightened – it acts as a lens to the picturesque surroundings. Simultaneously, the house integrates sustainable design strategies, including natural ventilation, passive solar gain, a geothermal field, and solar hot water heating. As a result, the house exists virtually “off the grid”, minimizing both its poetical and literal impact upon the site itself.

As one approaches the house, the juxtaposition of its geometry to the surrounding landscape accentuates the mountain and evergreen forest setting in which the house is located.  The house itself functions as a ‘frame’ that explores both the view to the mountains and the private/public spatial relationship implicit in the program of the house.  This is achieved primarily by the surface treatment of the front and rear facades.

The Northwest side of the house is a controlled, opaque façade.  This is also the façade where the main entry to the house is located, effectively disconnecting the viewer from the mountains immediately prior to dramatically framing this same view as one enters the house.  The Southeast side of the house is an operable glazed façade which opens to the mountains and to outdoor landscaped amenities, which extend the house into its surroundings. As the exterior spaces are embedded within a conditioned ground plane that serves to define and shelter the exterior spaces, the experience is not as mannered as within the interior space, providing a more primal connection to the natural phenomena. Simultaneously, these landscape walls are conceived as a sculpted base for the pristine frame of the house hovering above.

Within this frame, a carefully orchestrated ‘box’ contains the private spaces of the house. This box is a ‘house within a house’ that still affords views to the mountains, but mediates the view in a controlled manner that serves to heighten the experience. On the main level of this box are the 3 bedrooms for the kids and all of the service spaces for the house, such as washrooms, laundry rooms, and storage. The master bedroom and ensuite bathroom are located on the mezzanine level. As such, the frame of the house defines a two-storey open ‘public’ volume that contains the social amenities of the house.  From this space of the house, 18ft high sliding glass doors open to an outdoor patio, swimming pool, hot tub and to the view of the mountains. Meaning is embedded into the circulation between these two volumes, creating a series of occupied layers, each individually acting as its own “frame” that modulates the mountains and picturesque landscape in subtly different ways.

Visit Marc Boutin’s website here.


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