Take Note: yh2 Architecture

For yh2 Architecture principals Marie-Claude Hamelin, Loukas Yiacouvakis and their team, the work does not necessarily start with the clients’ desires, but with the site itself. That principle makes sense in rural properties, where the hilly and unspoiled Québec topography often calls for specialized engineering and design. But, says Hamelin, it operates equally in downtown Montréal, where the street or the local culture provides influences of its own.

With most clients, Hamelin explains, the team prefers to be there from the very first conception of a project, from when the client first buys the land, through design, construction and finishing touches. It allows them to assess not only important factors like wind exposure and sunlight, but even more important, where the most beautiful views are.

For one recent project the site was a particular challenge, even for a studio accustomed to non-standard landscapes: a sloping, rocky lot in the Laurentides region that had gone unsold for some time due to the difficulty of building on its steep grade. Undaunted, the team designed a rambling multi-level property, with a basement “footing” of two concrete pods connected by a bridge that forms the glass-walled dining area above.

For another sloping property in the Laurentians, the lake below was only one of several lovely views. That inspired the division of the house into three discrete pavilions, each on a slightly different angle and grade, facing its own view. “Every site is different, and each guideline for the project comes from that,” she laughs. “Then the list of things the client wants comes second!”

Dans l’Escarpement

Creating a spacious cottage on the very edge of a cliff required very specialized engineering and construction. From the gangway at road level, it descends level by level to the children’s rooms at the bottom. But there were compensations: the main living area, with its glass walls supported by fir framing, feels like a treehouse in mid-air.


Architecture follows the site in a different way for this three-part cottage in the Laurentians. Each pavilion is set at a slight angle to the others to frame lake and wood views, while the use of natural cedar cladding, expansive walls of glass and simple forms allows the house to nestle into the landscape.

Photography by: Maxime Brouillet