This retreat is situated at the magical edge between deciduous and evergreen forests. A choreographed series of events heightens the experience of movement through the site and house. The post-and-beam wood structure and shed roof modulate and lend a rhythm to the building, while the physical disposition and layering of spaces, materials and transparencies harness the emotive and sensory impact of the site.
The client’s program called for a modernist structure that reflected its natural surroundings. Located 70 miles north of Toronto on Georgian Bay, the site slopes steeply down through a forest of mature birch trees to a suddenly dense band of evergreens bordering the rocky shore of the bay.
The driveway winds through the birches, arriving at a stone forecourt bounded by a long wall of horizontal cedar planks, stained white. The white wall reflects the surrounding birch forest. At the end of the forecourt is a projection of scribe-fit logs with a massive boulder fireplace set within. The boulders, found on site, were deposited by a glacial runoff at the end of the last ice age.
As the visitor passes over the threshold, the space opens up and the evergreen forest and Georgian Bay reveal themselves through large expanses of glass at the far wall. This transparent façade allows the forest and the sloping landscape to become an extension of the open plan. The few solid walls that exist within the house are used to contain the less-public spaces and appear as volumes placed independently within the discipline of the wooden framework.