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Inside a lakeside retreat with impressive architectural finesse

Designed as a set of stacked and suspended rectangular boxes above the banks of a lake, this impressive retreat is filled with dramatic architectural moments

This summer house is set on the banks of Lake Huron in a small, remote Canadian town about an hour’s drive from London, Ontario. While the architectural context might be characterised as somewhat conservative “cabin country”, this house attempts to extend the possibilities of the traditional lakeside family retreat through a contemporary architectural approach. 

By harnessing recent developments in design, technology and sustainability to connect meaningfully with its beautiful natural setting, the design explores new ways of enhancing the lifestyle experience of the family summer getaway.


The Site

The site is a bluff occupying the transitional space between water and forest, rising 3.5m from road level and then dropping down to the water to create a grassy embankment. The building is set back on the property towards the street to preserve the natural bluff. 

On approach, the house is largely concealed by the surrounding mature fir trees, appearing as a simple light-coloured stone box floating effortlessly between the tree trunks. The rear of the house, facing Lake Huron, dissolves into a two-storey wall of glass washing natural light deep into the interiors.

The Design

Conceptually, the design consists of a series of stacked and suspended rectangular boxes, one embedding the building into the ground plane, the other suspended overhead to allow the living level to exist between the volumes. 

The dramatic triple-volume atrium lets in natural light
The dramatic triple-volume atrium lets in natural light and draws the eye outwards towards the view.

An indoor/outdoor volume to the south anchors the building and maximises the site’s lakeside views while allowing the living spaces to occupy the foreground. A bank of bedrooms projects backwards above the garage.

The way in which the building is largely obscured from the street and in turn screens views of the lake helps build suspense on arrival, only to satisfy the sense of anticipation on entry via the large pivot door. From the threshold, a dramatic triple-volume atrium lets in natural light and draws the eye outwards towards the view.

The layout

Programmatically, in keeping with the client brief, the spaces are fluid, the levels easy to navigate and the layout simple and well-structured, allowing for a casual atmosphere. The vast central volume is subtly contrasted with more intimate and contained volumes in the kitchen and other living spaces for a varied and articulated spatial experience.

The upper-level housing the master bedroom is devoted entirely to the owners’ private space, including an office and a gym. To the front of the house, a covered outdoor entertainment area flanks a swimming pool. 

A boardwalk and staircase descend to a refurbished cabin that predated the house, and now houses a guest suite and additional outdoor entertainment area to facilitate long summer days playing on the lake.

The materials

The finishes, externally and internally, favour a ceramic panelled system robust and hard-wearing enough to prove long-lasting in the extremes of the Canadian climate, which together with the home’s energy efficiency and the general longevity of the project and its materials, components and fittings contribute to its sustainability.

Credit list

Architects
Lighting design
SAOTA with assistance from Lux Populi
Landscaping
MHLA Inc
Interior designer
ARRCC
Bespoke furniture
OKHA
Contractor
MCI Design-Build Corporation

Story by: Trendsideas

Photography by: Adam Letch

05 Jul, 2020

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