Fact FileProject: Maison Melba
Site: Frelighsburg, Québec, Canada
Architecture: Atelier L’Abri
Photography: Alex Lesage
Designed in harmony with the landscape and rustic heritage of the Village of Frelighsburg, the house, a former 1970s automobile garage, has been transformed into a living space that is open to the community and the development of collaborative projects.Inspired by the fertile ecosystem of Frelighsburg, Maison Melba now houses a residence, a work studio, a workshop, and a culinary production and meeting space. Outside, the small plot of land also includes a greenhouse and small-scale vegetable production.
The project’s design is based on sensitivity to details and the passive-house expertise of the architects, resulting in a project where beauty is in harmony with performance.
A sensitive architectureThe building plan is distinguished by a large interstice slicing through the center of the building. Beneath a high skylight, the local natural stone floor extends the landscaping indoors to create a transitional space between the house and the creative areas. The entrance doors to the residence and the workshop open onto this narrow common alley adorned with plants.
Inside the house, the open plan is punctuated by furniture. The atmosphere is calm and warm. The sequence of spaces is composed of small moments conducive to the appreciation of materials, details, and nature. The eye wanders over the Douglas Fir floor, the lime-coated walls, the white oak furniture, the massive hemlock structure, the tall linen curtains, and the large wood windows that frame the landscape. On the workshop side, industrial-grade materials in neutral colors blend subtly into a bright canvas that invites collaboration and creativity. On both the residential and public sides, modular kitchens on legs integrate with the rest of the composition.
The exterior of the building wears a noble and timeless look that blends with the countryside. The steel roof will protect the natural-colored building for a long time, while the wood planks will gradually shift from brown to gray under the influence of time and the elements.
A sustainable transformationIn accordance with L’Abri’s Passive-House approach, Maison Melba will soon be LEED Platinum certified, the highest level of this reference standard for sustainable buildings. The building’s envelope that had reached its end of life was carefully dismantled to preserve only the original wood frame behind the house’s distinctive mansard silhouette. A new double-stud wall structure was then built within the existing skeleton to allow for increased insulation thickness, while reducing thermal bridges. These new thick walls, reminiscent of ancient constructions, are filled with cellulose fiber, a natural insulation material made from recycled paper.
On the exterior, the intermediate cladding is composed of ecological and insulating sheathing panels made from entirely recycled wood fiber, another bio-sourced product.
PassivHaus certified triple-glazed windows complete the envelope and promote passive-solar principles. Finally, an exemplary air tightness rating of 0.37 ACH at 50Pa gives the building exceptional energy efficiency performance. The project’s design integrates and celebrates the exceptional work of a long list of suppliers, manufacturers, designers, artisans, and consultants, alongside works from talented local designers.