In 2019, the skilled architects at SAOTA designed a luxurious home on the banks of Lake Huron.
The team of the South African architecture firm SAOTA designed this stately summer home is located at Lake Huron in a small, remote Canadian town. While the architectural context could be characterized as conservative, this house tries to expand the possibilities of a traditional family retreat by the lake with a contemporary architectural approach. It takes advantage of the latest developments in design, technology, and sustainability while making a meaningful connection with its beautiful environment. Please read more below the following image.
While the aesthetic approach of the Cape Town-based architecture firm SAOTA seems like a radical departure from traditional regional architecture, the architects have taken great care to keep the design unobtrusive and sensitive to its surroundings and still make an architectural statement.
The terrain is a cliff that occupies the transition area between water and forest, rises 3.5 m above the street level and then falls into the water to create a grassy dam. The building is set back on the property facing the street to preserve the natural steep slope. When approaching, the house is largely hidden from the surrounding old fir trees. It appears as a simple bright stone box that hovers effortlessly between the tree trunks. The back of the house with a view of Lake Huron dissolves in a two-story glass wall that flushes natural light deep into the interior.
The architectural concept consists of a series of rectangular boxes, one of which embeds the building on the basic level and the other hangs over the head so that the living area can exist between the volumes. An interior/exterior volume in the south anchors the building and maximizes the view of the lake, while the living rooms take the foreground. A bank of bedrooms juts out over the garage.
The way the building is largely covered by the street and in turn shields the view of the lake helps to build tension upon arrival to satisfy the feeling of anticipation when entering through the large revolving door. A dramatic triple-volume atrium lets in natural light from the threshold and directs the gaze towards the view.
Programmatically, the rooms are fluid according to the customer’s task. All levels are easy to navigate and the layout is simple and well structured, which enables an informal atmosphere. The huge central volume is subtly contrasted with more intimate and closed volumes in the kitchen and other living spaces for a varied and articulated spatial experience.
The upper floor of the master bedroom is exclusively dedicated to the private area of the owners, including an office and a gym. In front of the house, a covered outdoor entertainment area flanks a swimming pool. A promenade and stairs lead down to a renovated hut that was built in front of the house. There is also a guest suite and an additional outdoor entertainment area to enable long summer days on the lake.
The customer’s favorite room is the “machine room” on the bottom floor, which houses the entire infrastructure of the building technology. A commercial building automation system (BAS) controls and monitors the house and ensures optimal performance at all times. A 15 kW solar system supplies the house with electricity, and excess electricity is regularly fed back into the supply network for later use. The limited municipal rainwater and wastewater infrastructure resulted in an underground rainwater system on the property that can handle a 100-year storm and an Eco-Flo sewage system to meet all on-site wastewater requirements.
The outside and inside surfaces prefer a ceramic-paneled system that is robust and hard-wearing enough to be durable in the extremes of the Canadian climate.
The interior decoration was by ARRCC, the interiors division of SAOTA. All images © by SAOTA. Feel free to explore other inspiring projects in our Architecture and Interior Design categories.
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