Christie Beach Residence

Seamless Connectivity

Set on the south shore of Georgian Bay, the design of this residence sought to harmonize the structure and the surrounding landscape with minimal environmental impact, while accommodating the diverse needs of four generations of occupants. Integration with the site was achieved by setting the building low and shifting floor and roof planes so that it became embedded into the landscape. As the elevations shift between the deck, loft, upper patio, green roof and floor levels, intimate moments are created as each space unfolds distinctly into the external environment. The elevation of the reflecting pool is also set specifically to create an effect of seamlessly extending Georgian Bay to the house, blurring the lines between building and landscape.

Bringing The Outside Inside

Material choice is also significant in addressing the issues of site responsiveness, sustainability and comfort. The rich wood within the interior spaces brings warmth in winter while the rich red cedar and cherry woods intensify the vibrant green of the surrounding forest in summer. The consistent palette of cedar soffits and ceiling cladding, window and doorframes transition between the interior and exterior spaces. The exterior Ipe naturally blends with the surrounding rock and soil, becoming a geometric topography that extends its contemporary aesthetic into the natural environment.

Flanked by hard edges on the east and west, the building maintains privacy from neighbours while emphasizing the views to the inner courtyard. The organization of the building is broken down into zones; the main floor is divided between the public/living area and service while upstairs there are the two wings.

Sustainable Solutions

It was also important for the owner to reduce the energy footprint of their home as much as possible without compromising comfort. The first line of defense was to optimize the building envelope by means of correct solar shading, effective ventilation and high insulation levels achieved with ICF construction and sprayed polyurethane foam insulation as well as high performance “Heat Mirror” glazing. The building is effectively naturally ventilated to minimize the energy footprint of the home. The continuous clerestory windows in the main pavilion offer daylight as well as a 360° view of the adjacent external environment while its upward sloping roof facilitates natural stack-effect ventilation. Solar gains are controlled through expansive south facing glazing with large overhangs and gypcrete floors acting as thermal mass. Regionally sourced limestone was used to minimize transport related carbon emissions.

The second line of active strategies implemented a vertical ground-loop geothermal system as the primary heating system. Solar energy is collected through an array of evacuated tubes to heat the pool and a 10 kW grid-connected PV array is used to power the home. Comprehensive sustainable technologies and good building practices set this project apart from others in the Blue Mountain region while the unique building form and functional program promise to provide a wonderful family retreat as well as a year round dwelling for its owners.


Structural steel and ICF frame; Spanish Cedar windows, doors, soffits and ceilings; Heat Mirror and Low E glazing; Fundermax phenolic siding; copper flashing, regional limestone, Ipe decking, cherry cabinetry and flooring.


  • Passive Solar Heating
  • Natural Ventilation and Passive Cooling
  • Natural Daylighting
  • High Performance Envelope Design
  • Material Optimization and Modular Design
  • Renewable Materials and Finishes
  • Reclaimed and Recycled Materials
  • Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and Non-toxic Materials and Finishes
  • Advanced Geothermal Systems
  • Advanced Wood Heating Systems (ie. Contraflow Masonry Heaters)
  • Radiant Heating
  • Heat Recovery Ventilation
  • Solar Hot Water Systems
  • Solar Electric (photovoltaic or PV systems)
  • Low Energy Lighting & Appliances
  • Water Conserving Appliances & Fixtures
  • Green Roof Systems
  • Tertiary Wastewater Treatment


Altius Project Team Architecture

  • Graham Smith

Project Partners

  • Construction: Valley View Construction
  • Engineering: Hamann Engineering
  • Geothermal: Just Geothermal Systems
  • Pool: BonaVista Pools
  • PV Array: Generation Solar


  • Altius Architecture
  • Greg Gannon
  • Sandy MacKay