Catchacoma Cottage

A lofted one-storey cottage made up of three distinct volumes sits atop an undulating site, becoming a seamless part of the sloping landscape.

Designed for an extended family of three generations, the lofted one-storey cottage offers a panoramic view of Catchacoma Lake nestled within a pre-existing forest opening. Its modest form stands in contrast to the many large buildings that dominate the landscape of the region, embodying its vernacular characteristics of building construction and simplicity. The cottage takes its cue from the existing undulating topography and rises from a steep hill that leads down to the water’s edge immediately adjacent. Situated on a peninsula, the site provides a private and sheltered area that is perfect for reconnecting to nature.

Steeply sloped rooflines articulate three distinct volumes that act as separate wings, delineating a careful arrangement of spaces. The largest volume is the central gathering space, through which visitors enter and that contains the kitchen, living space, loft, and high sloped ceilings. On either side are situated the family bedrooms and guest bedrooms as separate wings, each their own volume. The three volumes sit at different floor heights that follow the natural grade of the site. The connection between the three volumes spans the main artery of the interior, allowing a simultaneous view of the three different floor levels. The rooflines meet in the middle at varying heights, allowing opportunity for clerestory windows that direct light and natural ventilation into the loft space and living room below.

The arrangement of the three volumes was planned to amplify curated views to the exterior from each interior space on axis, sustaining continuous connection to the landscape. The converging circulation arteries and highly functional spaces emphasize social connections and shared experiences within a compact footprint of 205 square metres. Visual and physical barriers are minimized between interior and exterior spaces to enhance enjoyment of the cottage experience. Immediately upon entry visitors can see through and out of the large rear glazed sliding doors to the water beyond. Each circulation route culminates in narrow, full-height windows with a view. The bedrooms take advantage of the changing slopes and corresponding rooflines with vaulted ceilings, affording increased light and space while remaining cozy with a human scale.

Use of natural materials defines the cottage and integrates the structure with its natural surroundings. A Scandinavian palette is carried throughout the interior to maintain a consistency of warmth, simplicity, and rawness that brings the outside in. Maple plywood constitutes the interior walls of all three wings, with two standouts: one wall in the living space contains a swatch of unfinished cold rolled steel that surrounds the wood-burning stove and chimney of the same material, and a wall of reclaimed wood defines the entry foyer. In contrast, material accents are black with a greystone island and metal accents in the kitchen that strike a contemporary balance amongst the spatial backdrops of organic material. Outside, the cladding of charred wood siding features a textured surface that allows the cottage to blend into its setting, harmonizing with the dark tree trunks that surround it. Additionally, the entry porch is carved out and adorned with warm red cedar, drawing one to the entry and interior.

Rather than leveling the site surrounding the structure, the landscape is celebrated and left as unaltered as possible. An expansive deck stretches along the lake side of the cottage, providing ample space for family gatherings and outdoor relaxation, and cascades down in multiple tiers towards the water’s edge. These tiers match the challenging natural slope of the site, effectively bridging the grade difference to avoid the use of blasting and offering various areas for different groups to gather. Further reducing the direct impact to the site, the four-season cottage is zoned for the ability to close off portions or separate wings, which is crucial to saving on energy usage. With sustainability as a priority, other attributes include high-performance glazing, a heat-recovery ventilation system paired with a super-tight building envelope, and wall and roof insulation levels significantly above minimum code requirement. From every angle and vantage point, the cottage opens to the lake, nestling into the trees and shifting the focus back onto the surrounding land.

  • The Wall Street Journal, “Catchacoma Fireplace”

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