When it comes to the Dômes Charlevoix, “glamping” does not quite feel like the correct portmanteau. The marriage of the words “glamour” and “camping” implies a certain sense of frivolity, an addition of bells and whistles that can undermine the very purpose of getting back to nature. We love an upscale rustic retreat, but toeing the line between luxury and basic necessities can result in tents that look like…well, over-decorated urban condos.
While the Dômes Charlevoix, nestled in the lush foliage of Petite-Rivière-Saint-François near Quebec City, are certainly in keeping with glamping trends, it behooves us to propose a new word to describe the sort of getaway they facilitate: “sophisticamping.” Here glamour gives way to a sophisticated minimalism. These all-season, eco-luxurious accommodations offer tasteful comforts that seem to stand silent and sentinel in the background, never upstaging the true showstopper: the surrounding landscape.
This unique triptych retreat was designed by Bourgeois/Lechasseur Architects, a contemporary architecture agency operating in the Quebec City and Îles-de-la-Madeleine region. Founded by Olivier Bourgeois and Régis Lechasseur, the firm is often focused on form and light, elements certainly at play in the Dômes Charlevoix.
The agency was commissioned by three young entrepreneurs with a vision of creating an extraordinary rental project, and Bourgeois/Lechasseur answered with three geodesic domes (the first phase of a larger tourism project) positioned harmoniously with the topography of the mountainside. Elevated by wooden decks, they are seemingly vaulted into the treetops, offering south-facing views of the St. Lawrence River below.
The domes are accessed via a serene wooded pathway from a common parking lot. Each structure shares the wooden patio with a petite spa that overlooks the landscape.
Inside, the canvas walls are a warm shade of grey. The floors are concrete, which helps to keep things clean and comfortable—just the right amount of industrial chic—while also helping to maintain a uniform temperature throughout the space.
In the centre of the space is a service area, providing basic comforts without upstaging the views or the experience of actually being on the land. This black volume houses a streamlined kitchen (its natural wood grains a welcome detail), a bed, and a bathroom, the latter featuring an Italian shower. (This is a luxury retreat, after all!) Above this volume is a second sleeping quarters, accessed by a boat ladder.
The wood-burning fireplace keeps the back area of this cavern-like space feeling appropriately cozy.
At the front of the dome, a fenestrated area makes good use of the south-facing vantage point by filling the space with plenty of natural light and maximizing solar gains. The heat accumulated in the concrete slab is then redistributed throughout the dome at night. The foot of each bed is pointed towards these triangular windowpanes, inviting guests to wake up and fall asleep with beautifully framed views of nature. On the main floor, a small eating area also hugs these windows, ideal for when the weather won’t co-operate enough for a campfire outdoors. When a little more privacy is required, curtains can be drawn, turning this into a true cave-like oasis.
Bourgeois/Lechasseur Architects shared in a recent press release that its work is largely derived from the belief that “the element of surprise is essential to the comprehension of a project.” This is perfectly exemplified in the Dômes Charlevoix; integrated with the landscape, they appear almost as boulders from above and are partially obscured by the tree canopy from below. Drawing closer, however, one will be delightfully surprised to discover a luxurious cluster of eco-friendly retreats, simply begging you to pack a bag for a calm weekend of sophisticamping.
Photos via v2com.
Photographer: Maxime Valsan