Christie Beach House

The Blue Mountains, Ontario

Canadian cottage in Winter with large stone walls and wood framed curtain walls

Set on the south shore of Georgian Bay, the design of this residence sought to balance the structure and the surrounding landscape with minimal environmental impact, while accommodating the diverse needs of four generations of occupants. Assimilation with the site was achieved by setting the building low and shifting floor and roof planes so that it became embedded into the landscape.

Large wood frame sliding glass door set into exposed stone wall with a recessed valance light

As the elevations shift between the deck, loft, upper patio, green roof and floor levels, each space unfolds distinctly into the external environment. The elevation of the reflecting pool is also set specifically to blur the lines between building and landscape.

Great room of Ontario Cottage with curved wood ceiling and sitting room mezzanine

Material choice was also significant in addressing the issues of site responsiveness, sustainability and comfort in this 6,000 sq. ft. residence. The rich wood within the interior spaces casts a sense of warmth in winter, while the rich red cedar and cherry wood intensify the vibrant green of the surrounding forest in summer. The consistent palette of cedar soffits and ceiling cladding, window and door frames, transition effortlessly between the interior and exterior spaces.

Contemporary Georgian Bay cottage with curved wood ceiling and wood framed curtain wall with expansive views to the Bay
Ontario cottage outdoor deck with infinity pool set into a natural Ipe deck and large sliding doors into the cottage interior

The exterior ipe blends with the surrounding rock and soil, becoming a contemporary aesthetic that extends into the natural environment.

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

Canadian outdoor dining table with exterior stone fireplace, wood soffits and phenolic panel fascia
Exterior cottage courtyard in Contemporary Blue Mountains cottage

It was also important for the owner to reduce the energy footprint of their home as much as possible without compromising comfort. The first consideration was to optimize the building enclosure by means of correct sun shading, effective ventilation, and high insulation levels. This was achieved with insulating concrete forms (ICF) construction, sprayed polyurethane foam insulation, and as high-performance Heat Mirror glazing.

Ontario cottage green roof with wood framed curtain wall and phenolic panelling
Custom Canadian cottage kitchen with panelled wood appliances and wood countertop

The building is 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. 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 (to absorb and store heat). Regionally sourced limestone was used to minimize transport-related carbon emissions.

Comprehensive, sustainable technologies and good building practices set this project apart from others in the Blue Mountain region. Its unique building form and function promise to provide a wonderful family retreat as well as a year-round dwelling for its owners.

Cottage living room with wood burning stone fireplace integral wood storage and red leather sofas