Toronto firm Atelier Kastelic Buffey has recently completed a minimalistic black and white chalet in Ontario’s Blue Mountains, echoing the forms of the area’s traditional barns and farmhouses. The residence, dubbed Alta Chalet, is designed as a year-round weekend retreat for a family of five, comprising 3,000 square feet of efficiently planned living space spread over two storeys.
Successfully integrating into its context, the project responds deferentially to the scale of the neighbouring houses while offering a distinct interpretation of a conventional ski chalet. In contrast to a typical and expected architectural vocabulary of fussy dormers and deep eaves, Alta Chalet communicates an ethos of contemporary design and elegant detailing that derives from the local vernacular tradition of the barn. Its iconic presence – defined by a reductive black-and-white colour scheme and a tight, clean, gabled roof edge – complements the intelligence of its spatial and economic efficiency.
The inversion of program results in the public spaces occupying the top floor to facilitate appreciation of long vistas to the surrounding ski hills. Here, the family congregates in the open-concept kitchen, dining and living areas; a private den with access to a large south-facing outdoor deck completes the arrangement. Below, the ground floor comprises more intimate functions of bed and bath, along with a sauna and direct access to the outdoor hot tub deck. A garage accommodates two vehicles, with extra room for tuning skis and other recreational equipment.
Notably, primary access to the chalet is neatly concealed, mediated through a screened and covered entry passage articulated with vertically oriented wood slats painted white. This device achieves not only privacy and protection from the elements, but also a diffusely lit transitionary sequence for those arriving and departing.
On the interior, the spare qualities of the exterior are reflected through an understated but refined material palette. Walls and sloped ceiling planes form a sculptural composition in matte white that amplifies winter light and the purity of the snow outside, enhancing the expression of light and shadow throughout the course of the day. Wide-plank oak floors and rift-cut white oak millwork convey warmth and tactility. The drama of the blackened steel fireplace surround establishes a focal point in the main living area, its threshold demarcated by a pleasingly textured flamed basalt hearth.
The architects selected simple, resilient materials for the building’s exterior. “The requirement of material durability and longevity was paramount: thus, low-maintenance pre-finished Canadian pine siding and a high-performance metal roof were specified for the building exterior,” they said.
images by Bob Gundu, Shai Gil, and Sky Guys | courtesy of v2com