Where Modernist Design Meets Nature: Monument Channel Cottage

Located in Monument Channel, a narrow body of water that neighbours Galbraith Island in Canada’s Georgian Bay, this cottage by CORE Architects is the sort of retreat that makes us want to pack up city life for a peaceful existence on verdant shores.

Built for year-round use, this 2,125 sq.ft. structure was built in a location so remote that all building materials had to be delivered to the area by barge. But just one look at this grand cottage, perched on a rocky hill overlooking the sparkling blue waters, will tell you that there’s nothing rough about this retreat — except, perhaps, some of the rustic-cool details of the interior. The cottage is designed to be entirely self-sufficient, with solar panels and a bio-filter septic system to treat all wastewater in a sustainable manner.

Of course, there are perks to being a successful architect — namely, the ability to create the oasis of your dreams. CORE Principal Charles Gane designed the cottage for his own personal use, a process through which he infused the natural landscape with a respectful dose of contemporary design sensibilities. “The Monument Channel cottage,” he explains to us, “was an exercise to show how modernist design principals could be combined with raw, natural building materials to respond to the Canadian Shield landscape.” Practically, this vision resulted in a soaring structure with stellar views. “The design consists of a glazed living pavilion that spans over a natural bedrock gully,” he continued, “and lands on a bedroom wing below to create a sheltered entry condition.”

The primary building material, used everywhere from the exposed structural frame to the cabinetry and interior wall finishes, is Douglas Fir. “There is a consistency of materials where Douglas Fir is used both as massive structural members and left unfinished and used for interior surfaces,” explains Gane. Natural materials onsite also influenced the design, merging the indoor and outdoor aesthetic. All wood was either solid sawn or milled to a profile. Outside it was finished with a clear, penetrating oil sealer and completed with a cladding of structural wood or cedar shingles.

Gane drew inspiration not just from the forest, but also the rocky land on which he was building. “Natural bed stone is used where the building meets the bedrock and for fireplaces and exterior terraces,” he adds. “Polished concrete is used for all the interior floors.”

In technical terms, the simplicity of the post and beam structural frame allow the cottage to be organized based on its rhythmically-placed columns, beams, and purlins.

Click through the gallery above for images of this contemporary rustic retreat.


Images courtesy of CORE Architects.