Stealth Cabin

Bracebridge, Ontario

Sited on a lake near Bracebridge, this small-footprint family cottage was designed with a sustainability agenda at the forefront; it was important that the building integrate with its natural surroundings while minimizing environmental impact. As a solution to the clients’ desires for both a traditional log cabin and a modern weekend home, the design addresses the competing objectives through a cleanly sculptural form rendered completely in cedar. 

The potential relentlessness of this material continuity is avoided by the imaginative deployment of cedar in a variety of applications, referencing the abundance of trees on site. Taking cues from its surroundings, the building takes its shape from an overturned boat found on the property, with the faceting of the cabin’s walls echoing the rise and fall of the site’s topography. Cedar cladding traces the form of the building from outside in, up the walls and into the origami-like angular folds of the roof, which rise and fall to create a dramatic, light-filled space. Cedar shakes on the south façade break up the monotony, providing textural and tonal contrast while thin horizontal cedar slats form a delicate screen that wraps the enclosed porch, creating complex patterns of light and shadow and modulating the view.

The cabin was sited to preserve a maximum number of trees, while its scale and proportions make minimal physical and visual impact on the land. To reduce energy consumption, the cabin premeditates passive cooling and ventilation, and the plan and radiant heating system were designed so that the north half of the cabin can be closed when not in use.

Large floor-to-ceiling wood-framed windows and doors overlook the lake to the south, and provide ample access to a long cedar deck. As the untreated cedar boards and shakes weather and bleach to a faded dusty grey over time, the cottage will appear to coalesce even further into its landscape. The name of the cottage – Stealth Cabin – refers to this material and formal union.

photo: Shai Gil