Frame House by The Marc Boutin
Architectural Collaborative


Canadian studio The Marc Boutin Architectural Collaborative have completed a timber-clad house designed to frame views from a hill in Invermere, Canada.

Called Frame House, the building is glazed on one facade, capturing views of the forests and mountains beyond.

Private rooms are concealed by a second box within the larger house.

Photographs are by Bruce Edward.

Below are some more details from the studio:


This design for a young family of five is conceived of as an object sitting within a recreational landscape. The house is not only the space for living, but also becomes a tool by which one’s senses of the natural environment are heightened - it acts as a lens to the picturesque surroundings.

Simultaneously, the house integrates sustainable design strategies, including natural ventilation, passive solar gain, a geothermal field, and solar hot water heating. As a result, the house exists virtually “off the grid”, minimizing both its poetical and literal impact upon the site itself.

As one approaches the house, the juxtaposition of its geometry to the surrounding landscape accentuates the mountain and evergreen forest setting in which the house is located.

The house itself functions as a ‘frame’ that explores both the view to the mountains and the private/public spatial relationship implicit in the program of the house.  This is achieved primarily by the surface treatment of the front and rear facades.

The Northwest side of the house is a controlled, opaque façade.  This is also the façade where the main entry to the house is located, effectively disconnecting the viewer from the mountains immediately prior to dramatically framing this same view as one enters the house. The Southeast side of the house is an operable glazed façade which opens to the mountains and to outdoor landscaped amenities, which extend the house into its surroundings.

As the exterior spaces are embedded within a conditioned ground plane that serves to define and shelter the exterior spaces, the experience is not as mannered as within the interior space, providing a more primal connection to the natural phenomena. Simultaneously, these landscape walls are conceived as a sculpted base for the pristine frame of the house hovering above.

Within this frame, a carefully orchestrated ‘box’ contains the private spaces of the house. This box is a ‘house within a house’ that still affords views to the mountains, but mediates the view in a controlled manner that serves to heighten the experience.

On the main level of this box are the 3 bedrooms for the kids and all of the service spaces for the house, such as washrooms, laundry rooms, and storage. The master bedroom and ensuite bathroom are located on the mezzanine level. As such, the frame of the house defines a two-storey open ‘public’ volume that contains the social amenities of the house.

From this space of the house, 18ft high sliding glass doors open to an outdoor patio, swimming pool, hot tub and to the view of the mountains. Meaning is embedded into the circulation between these two volumes, creating a series of occupied layers, each individually acting as its own “frame” that modulates the mountains and picturesque landscape in subtly different ways.


the marc boutin architectural collaborative inc. is a research-based, client-focused, critical practice that has been providing design services in Calgary since 1997. The work in the studio explores design opportunities that lie at the confluence of different disciplines, seeking a density of meaning and environmental stewardship that can only be achieved through the synthesis of art, architecture, urban design, industrial design and landscape architecture. The resultant design portfolio has received numerous international and national awards for architecture and public space design and has been internationally published and exhibited. Recent work includes the redevelopment of Eau Claire Plaza, one of Calgary’s premiere public spaces; a number of single family houses in the inner city; the revitalization of Calgary’s river pathway system through a series of public plazas; and the restoration of the historic Calgary Public Building.

Posted on Monday January 25th 2010 at 12:14 am by Chris Barnes. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • epolygon

    the power of simplicity. amazing~

  • dcbcn

    With the initial photo I thought, “Lovely little modern cabin.” With the second photo, it was “Conference Center.” This home is gigantic. I fail to see what is so “sustainable” about its size for just five people. Fifty people could live in there without bumping into each other. If rich homeowners such as these are so concerned about “minimizing both its poetical and literal impact upon the site itself,” they would not build on the site at all. The firm’s own topographical models illustrate the invasiveness of the house on the site.

  • Ebru Kandilci

    The idea of acting as a lens to those marvellous picturesque surrondings and integrating sustainable design looks very succesful with that frame box building form. It gives a feeling to live the design with its all wide eye to nature…great job!

  • artur

    just great.

  • Hamad Sultan

    This looks like an over scaled Souto De Moura house. The planning is bad too. My guess is that the architect couldn’t figure out how to engage the glass with the bedrooms, so he designed them as a core element, which will have to sacrifice light, air, and view for privacy.

  • very impressed! Well done!

  • jozu

    the concept is strong in the first image, but then it isn’t all that simple like it should/could be, is it?

  • roman kralya

    nice concept, but main facade looks like it`s an entrance to the hotel. my senses: very big, very unprotected, very cold

  • cacas

    apesar dos quartos sem abertura… o caixote ficou muito bom no contexto

  • Maz

    You would think that the spatial arrangement would have started from a the longsection, but since there seems to be none…

  • tres beau travail messieurs. Félicitations

  • Branko

    ….perhaps we should applaud this attempt at modern architecture in the Canadian cultural wilderness. Aleast it wasn’t designed by a circus troupe.

  • Rafel

    I wonder how they are going to clean these high glasses. No cheap.

  • Chester

    Better examples of a frame house can be found in the works of Brian Mackay-Lyons

  • Carlos Loscar

    This new way of projecting rationalist style, this distorts the concept of home or family home, the high ceilings and open spaces have lost the use and relationship to human scale, proof of this is the furniture floating or lost in so free surface. I think we should innovate in other ways. Carlos, Argentina