Think Small

Winter 2017

ARCH 202 / McGill University

Professor: David Covo

TA: Vedanta Balbahadur, Anca Matyiku, Dustin Valen



Montréal is a city that develops around Mont-Royal, both in geographical sense and literacy sense.  Mont-Royal sits right in the middle of the island of Montreal and it is the largest green space in the city. The aim of this design practice is to build a temporary, modest cabin (25 meter squared) on the site of Mont-Royal for a McGill researcher who would conduct environmental research on the mountain. The cabin would serve the purpose of a short-term shelter, working space and a place for contemplation. 


Chosen on the North-East side of Mont-Royal, the site covers the area of a square that is 10 x 10 meters. Although the space is limited, the site covers a variety of typology: from the west side, the site has a 40 degree hill side spans across 3 meters. It  comes to a 5 meters relatively flat platform and then follows by a quick drop which is almost vertical towards the edge. Eye-sight hindered by the thick trunks and branches of tall woods, one cannot observe, but only perceive the city. 


Light is a very important element in design. Light enables us to define what is around us and impacts our perceptions of space and ourselves. Light, or the absence of light could transform space through the span of the day and the changing of seasons. Based on the sun-path diagram I developed for the site, I constructed 3 facades with each of them corresponds to the 3 significant moments in a day: sunrise, sun peak and sunset. With a considerable sized window on each facade, I thus created 3 frames to capture those significant phases individually and to celebrate each moment. I built the cabin on the flat platform of the site, with the its main entrance door facing to the hill side and its biggest window facing the south. The two materials for windows are glass and one-way mirror. The glass windows bring in the sun light from outside where as the one-way mirror windows "give back". It is a metaphorical euphemism ,a reflection on human's exploit of nature and a wish for mankind and nature to co-exist without destroying each other.