Following the contours of the site, the plan encloses a courtyard on the entry side. From this viewpoint the entry side is relatively opaque, in order that the occupants may focus on the lake, and not the cars, the road, and the city they left behind.

The design is a metaphor of a series of cabins in the woods connected by a common roof with outdoor spaces in between. On arrival, one crosses a threshold and enters between two of the cabins into a large open public space which has a seamless connection to the outdoors, giving the viewer the sense that they are under a large indoor/outdoor pavilion. This pavilion houses the living, dining and kitchen areas. A secondary corridor at the rear accommodates a pantry room and a small work station, overlooking the courtyard. The clerestory windows above the main living space contribute to the outdoor ambience and when open will provide a natural ventilation system using the stack effect.

A corner bay creates a kind of inglenook along the fireplace wall to house either a games area or simply seating to allow the occupants to sit and gaze at the lake. Windows are floor to ceiling, wall to wall which provides the maximum daylight and minimum glare while maximizing views to the outdoors. Most areas of the house have daylight from multiple directions, again minimizing glare and avoiding the need for electric light in the daytime. Exterior soffits continue inside through the exterior glazing to create valances, further blurring the line between indoors and outdoors, and creating even daylighting.

A three-sided screened porch is located at the west end of the house off the kitchen and is connected to the lake through a deck. The three sides allow for a cross breeze off the lake, and its location at one end of the house allows for unobstructed views to the lake from the main living spaces.

The L-shaped floor plan not only wraps the courtyard, but also follows the site contours to integrate the house into the landscape. The east wing of the ‘L’ houses the bedrooms and allows each bedroom a view of the lake. The connecting corridor houses storage areas, a powder room and the laundry room with a view at the end of the hall. This walkway acts as a connection to the bedrooms but is designed as negative space—that is it almost feels like the bedrooms are cabins connected by an outdoor covered passageway. This also maximizes one’s connection to the outdoors while providing daylight and views to a space that might otherwise simply be considered a mundane corridor.


Muskoka, Ontario




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David Whittaker