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Muskoka Lakes Region  Canada  –  Altius Architects

Year Built:     2011
Built Area:     600 sq. ft.  (55.5 m2)

Lake Joseph is located in Ontario, Canada. It is one of three large, adjoining lakes located a little over two hours from Montreal.   Being only two hours drive from Montreal it is a popular summer retreat. The lakes have numerous islands and hundreds of kilometres of shore line with a permanent population of just 5,500. During peak vacation season in July and August, the population swells to around 30,000.

Summer at its best…
Summer at its best…

Way back in 1894, residents of the area recognised the pristine nature of their environment by forming the Muskoka Lakes Association. The Association oversees development in the region, in part, restricting both the scope and size of foreshore development.

The home shown here looks a lot larger than the 600 sq. ft. limit imposed by the association.  The architects have used strong visual cues to reduce the clear definition of inside space and outside panorama. We think they’ve done a great job. Here are their notes:

“The design of this boathouse, on the shore of Lake Joseph, is driven by stringent guidelines prescribed in the zoning by-laws. The project carves into the pitched roof tradition of the area and extends views out towards the lake, taking a modern twist on the established building typology. This starting point sparked an iterative design process involving building orientation, openings, sunlight and materiality, to negotiate a number of factors in the design of a simple dwelling with dynamic spatial qualities. In a site-specific approach, views are directed towards desired locations along the lake while adding headroom for the programmatic functions beneath the pitched roof.

Elements of addition in the rectangular dormers allow the boathouse to inhabit the maximum building area, while balanced with an element of subtraction in the second floor deck. This outdoor space, carved out of the roof, is an extension of the interior living area, where the dwelling is perceived to be larger than zoning by-law will allow.

The elevations are considered as a wrapping of material integrating openings and cut outs of contrasting material adding to the dialogue between building elements.

As a seasonal residence, this project balances comfort and economy in a creative proposal. This design reflects the desire for an emotional connection to the typology of a generic Muskoka boathouse, while addressing a contemporary approach of expression in a residence designed to meet the needs of the client and the site.”

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Another gorgeous Canadian waterfront home we recommend is Merrick Architecture’s Dream by the Water