Text description provided by the architects. Located adjacent to Lake Winnipeg in the community of Dunnottar, this 4-season cottage was conceived as a modest home away from home for a family of four. A long, linear volume housing the client’s requested program folds onto itself as a means to open views, define private exterior space, capture sunlight and weave around existing trees.
Site and Intention
Situated on a 50 x 140 foot lot within 150 feet of the shore, the project takes advantage of lakefront views offered by a narrow greenway linking the site to a small portion of public beach. Two ancient white spruce trees frame the northern edge of the site, while a 250 year old great oak occupies the southwest corner. A handful of smaller trees line the public lane and several mature timbers are clustered just west of the lot’s centre. These trees are retained and become key visual and environmental reference points.
As a means to escape the city, Webster Cottage strives to enhance the qualities that cottage life can offer. Engagement with the site’s landscape in a multitude of ways therefore becomes the single most important design strategy. The cottage gives its residents opportunities to bask in direct sun, remain outside and dry in a rainstorm, get up high into the trees, view the lake, and dine outside protected from mosquitos - through such considerations, the dwelling becomes as varied as the site.
The diverse program paired with a shoe-string budget called for both an energy saving strategy and a simple structural / construction logic.
Expansion and Contraction
In order to capture the variety of experiences offered by the site, the cottage reaches out to its four corners. Intended for use in all seasons, the building contracts to conserve energy during the coldest winter months, heating only those rooms that are occupied. This seasonal expansion and contraction gives way to both a main, insulated cottage and a series of uninsulated spaces, including water-tight summer and storage rooms, a covered / screened porch, and open-air covered decks. A raised walkway links these spaces on the ground, while a single blanketing roof unifies the main programmatic elements as one cottage.
In addition to seasonal shifts as a means to save energy costs, the cottage could only be viable by implementing a simple structural logic. Standard stick-frame construction on a 24-inch grid makes up the linear bar of uninsulated structure, while a 30-inch grid is maintained in the 650 sqft main cottage as the structural lines transition across the architectural fold. Complexity is concentrated at this juncture where the single story bar folds back on itself, becoming two storeys.
Material variations are kept to a minimum to keep costs in line and to emphasize the contrast between the roof surface and the internal spaces .