APPAREIL Architecture conceive a trio of lakeside cabins in Austin, Canada that balance both tradition and modernity.

Made up of three distinct yet interconnected houses, Les Voisines blurs the line between shared and private spaces. At the same time, the westernmost house is dedicated to the clients, the easternmost house functions as a rental space that can host up to two families. The middle house seamlessly unites the two, with a shared kitchen, dining area and living room. Meaning ‘The Neighbours’ in French, Les Voisines adopts an unconventional co-living layout. Secluded in the unfrequented forests of Quebec, the home offers a retreat for both inhabiting parties – a space where they can come together while remaining sufficiently apart.

Based in Montreal, APPAREIL Architecture’s practice is rooted in the traditions of their neighbours, the Nordics.APPAREIL Architecture founder Kim Pariseua, says a Nordic approach was Les Voisines’ connecting thread, sewing together the seams of traditional and contemporary design. The home’s pared-back aesthetic embodies such an approach, as do the materials and colours of the natural world – ash wood and muted greys conjuring distant Nordic landscapes.

Les Voisines’ modern details have been sensibly worked into its traditional fabric. The interiors were spearheaded by the client herself, Lysanne Pepin, with an eye for minimalist and timeless pieces. APPAREIL Architecture then proposed a modernised version of the home’s exterior, with oversized windows, short roof overhanging and high ceilings. Kim calls this partnership between client and architect an “out-of-the-ordinary” one that gave birth to a “distinctive” design venture.

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Oversized windows let in an abundance of natural light and connect the interiors to nature.

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Gabled roofs are a distinguishing feature of Nordic design, and suitable to Quebecois winters.

A connection to the surrounding lakes and forests of Quebec was imperative to the project. The glass passage that joins the three houses together “creates an invitation to wander and a space conducive to contemplation and communion with nature,” Kim says. Natural light does not come and go like a guest either; it is a constant throughout each space, deconstructing the boundaries between inside and outside.

APPAREIL Architecture have also taken into consideration Quebec’s varying climate, in particular, its long winters. The two small terraces that connect the homes together are orientated south to offer protection from the wind. This creates a “microclimate”, as Kim calls it, allowing for the space to be used late into the winter season. 

Les Voisines by APPAREIL Architecture is the rental home of the future, guided by the past and inspired by the present.

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The southern side of the connective passage opens out onto the lake, while the northern side is used for storage.

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