Adapting to Canadian Snow: Schnee-Eule chalet

Located in the forest, outside of the village of Morin-Heights, Quebec, and designed for a family of four by Atelier L’Abri, the Schnee-Eule chalet allows its occupants to escape from the city to enjoy the calm of nature.

Photo credit: Raphaël Thibodeau

The design language of the building is borrowed from Austrian Alpine architecture, an inspiration that also lends itself to the project’s name. Schnee-Eule is the German word for the snowy owl, a white bird of prey that is particularly well adapted to winter.

During concept development, great importance was given to the compactness of the square plan, which limits the footprint of the construction. The vertical volume nests the upper floor bedrooms in the treetops.

With outdoor activities at the heart of the family’s life, a gear-room has been fitted out on the lower floor to provide direct access to cross-country skiing and mountain biking trails. A spacious terrace and screened veranda face south to allow for a smooth transition between the living spaces and the outside.

The white wood cladding, installed vertically, camouflages the project in the winter landscape. Its horizontal subdivisions are reminiscent of traditional alpine huts, as is the double-pitched roof with its large overhangs. The interior is characterized by a calm and warm atmosphere, with large bay windows giving way to the contemplation of nature and plays of light. With a woodstove at its heart, the living area invites relaxation. Small moments complete the picture, including a reading nook in the master bedroom.

Unique, and specifically made for the house, the furniture was designed and handmade by Inat, a Montreal-based woodworker.

Technical sheet

Project: Schnee-Eule

Site: Morin-Heights, Québec, Canada

Area: 2400pi2 (730m2)

Architecture: Atelier L’Abri

Construction: Invesco Habitation

Project Team: Pia Victoria Hocheneder, Nicolas Lapierre, Vincent Pasquier, Francis Martel-Labrecque

Suppliers: Inat, Fabelta, Mac Metal, Maibec, Bois Mirage, Luminaire Authentik

Delivery: 2021

Photographer: Raphaël Thibodeau