Maison Melba - a home that celebrates the harmony of nature and sustainability

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Atelier L'Abri presents Maison Melba, a place of living, creation, and exchange designed in harmony with the landscape and the rustic heritage of the village of Frelighsburg, on a small road leading to Vermont...

Founded on preservation and sustainability, this unique architectural project tells a story: the story of a sensitive and sustainable renovation of a rural building nestled in the heart of meadows and orchards symbolic of this agricultural region of southern Quebec.

This project reflects the values of the new owner, based on sharing and hospitality. A former auto garage from the 1970s has been transformed into a space open to the community and the development of collaborative projects.

Inspired by the fertile ecosystem of Frelighsburg, Maison Melba now encompasses a living space, a work studio, a workshop, and a space for culinary and meetings. On the small plot, there is also a greenhouse and a garden dedicated to the production of small quantities of vegetables, with most of the food being consumed or processed on site.

The venerable architecture of Maison Melba reflects the vision and values of the project. The project's design is based on sensitivity to details and expertise in passive houses by architects, resulting in a project where beauty aligns with performance.

Sensitive Architecture

The building plan is marked by a large cut that crosses the center of the building. Below the high light vault, a floor of natural stone slabs extends inside to create a transitional space between the house and creative areas. The entrance doors to the apartment and workshop open onto this narrow communal alley adorned with plants.

Inside the house, the open plan is gently accentuated by furniture. The atmosphere is calm and warm. A series of spaces consists of small moments suitable for the price of materials, details, and nature. We see floors made of Douglas fir, lime-coated walls, white oak furniture, solid spruce construction, high linen curtains, and large wooden windows that frame the landscape. On the workshop side, industrial materials of neutral colors are subtly blended into the light background that invites collaboration and creativity. On the residential and public side, modular kitchens on legs integrate easily with the rest of the composition. In each space, a careful selection of lighting fixtures completes the picture drawn with care and delicacy.

The exterior of the building carries a noble and timeless appearance that blends with nature. The steel roof will protect the building for many years, while the wooden planks will gradually transition from brown to gray under the influence of time and elements. Under a large willow, the long horizontal structure of the former garage will quietly age in the landscape of native plants.

Sustainable Transformation

For a building to age well, it must first be well-designed. In line with the Passive-House approach of L'Abri, Maison Melba will soon be certified as LEED Platinum, the highest level of this reference standard for sustainable buildings.

To start this transformation, the building's external envelope, which had reached the end of its life, was carefully dismantled to preserve only the original wooden structure behind the characteristic mansard silhouette. Then a new double wall structure was built within the existing skeleton to allow for increased insulation thickness, reducing thermal bridges. These new thick walls, reminiscent of old constructions, are filled with cellulose fibers, a natural insulating material made from recycled paper. On the outside, the middle cladding consists of ecological and insulating panels made from fully recycled wood fibers, another bio-sourced product. Triple-glazed windows certified to PassivHaus standards complete the envelope and promote the principle of passive solar heating. Finally, an exceptional air-tightness rating of 0.37 ACH at 50Pa gives the building excellent energy efficiency performance. With this technical rigor, Maison Melba will be part of the Frelighsburg landscape for many decades.

Holistic Vision

The design vision of Atelier L'Abri is based on a fundamental and necessary balance between beauty, usefulness, and durability to provide truly timeless architecture. Driven by values shared by the project's founder, the sustainable transformation of Maison Melba is an inspiring demonstration of this ideal. The successful completion of this ambitious project relies on an integrated design process led by the Atelier L'Abri design and construction team and Construction Modulor, as well as the exceptional execution of the entire project team.

The project's design integrates and celebrates the exceptional work of a large number of suppliers, manufacturers, designers, craftsmen, and consultants. The architectural language of Maison Melba highlights the richness of materials such as Kebony wood cladding, handmade lime plaster, Dinesen wooden floors, and Bisson Bruneel textiles. Carefully selected furniture includes pieces from international design houses such as Vipp, Dinesen, Frama, Santa & Cole, and Ligne Roset, along with works by talented local designers and manufacturers such as Clara Jorisch, Kastella, Atelier Vaste, Mark Krebs, Montauk, and Ema ceramics.

The landscape design was carried out by Écomestible, specialized in ecological and regenerative landscape design inspired by permaculture principles. Écohabitation oversaw the LEED certification of the project. Finally, the project was documented through the careful eye of photographer Alex Lesage, who stayed on site for several days.

Maison Melba is the fruit of this wonderful and collaborative collaboration. It is a project enriched by the invaluable contribution of all these actors gathered around the creation of a new chapter in the life of the building in harmonious relation with its context and environment. Maison Melba is a project of the heart that looks forward to an optimistic future.

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