Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion informs minimal Quebec pool house

Canadian studio MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects used concrete, glass and wood to form an austere pool house in southern Quebec that references Mies van der Rohe’s seminal Barcelona Pavilion.

Pool House by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple

The Pool House is located in Sainte-Marthe, a village just west of Montreal. The building is situated at the base of a wooded slope, at the point where the hillside meets the Saint Lawrence River Valley.

Pool House by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple

The project was designed by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects, which has offices in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Denver, Colorado.

Pool House by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple

The team took cues from a groundbreaking project by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe – the 1929 Barcelona Pavilion, which gained acclaim for its simple form and rich materials, such as marble and red onyx.

Similarly, the pool house is intended to be a minimalist and intricately crafted building.

Pool House by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple

The building consists of a glass-walled box, a shaded terrace with a fireplace, and a long, linear swimming pool that stretches toward the agrarian floodplain.

Pool House by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple

All elements are framed by an L-shaped wall made of board-formed concrete. Leading to the building is a pathway that cuts through a grassy field.

“The public facade of this project opens to the southwest to take full advantage of natural light, essential to this pool house’s programme,” said MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects.

The glazed box contains a gym and areas for changing and bathing. Interior walls and ceilings are clad in honey-toned wood, adding warmth to the austere space. Glass walls can be fully opened up, eliminating the boundary between inside and out.

Pool House by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple

The small building is shaded by an overhanging roof supported by slender columns.

“A monolithic roof floats above the glass box, with a cedar-board soffit that extends above an outdoor fireplace and the pool, offering protection from the elements,” the studio said. “This is an all-weather building, designed for use in all four seasons.”

Pool House by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple

MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple is known for its distinctive, modern projects in rugged settings. The firm has completed numerous buildings in Nova Scotia, including a shingled house that sits atop concrete plinths and a timber-clad spa building added to a residential property. In 2015, firm partner Brian MacKay Lyons was awarded the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Gold Medal.

Photography is by James Brittain.

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