Stealth Cabin lake retreat designed for four-seasons in Canada

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Stealth Cabin is a modest private retreat embraced by trees that was designed in 2011 by Superkül inc, sited on a beautiful lake near Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada. The 1,500 square foot four-season cabin was designed to nestle into the landscape and tread lightly on the land. Its sculptural form relies on wood both for structural strength and aesthetic warmth, in a cost-effective manner that capitalized on the strength of the local carpentry trades.

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The design set out to make a small footprint home, one that married the warmth of a traditional log cabin with the clean lines and energy efficiency of something more modern. Designed to nestle into the existing topography of the site, the sculptural form of the cabin takes its cues from the rise and fall of the land, and the views through the trees. The sculptural reading of the form is heightened to a great degree by the cabin’s material continuity. Cedar was used throughout – on the interior walls and ceilings, on the roof and on the exterior walls, blending inside and out.

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The exterior cedar shakes and boards were left untreated. As they weather and bleach out over time, the cottage will blend further into its landscape. The name of the cabin – ‘Stealth Cabin’ – refers to this material and formal blending.

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The cabin is designed to minimize both its visual and physical impact. Nestled into the woods and of a modest size and height, the cabin is only barely visible from the lake. The scale, proportions and sculptural form of the cabin take their cues from the existing rise and fall of the land, creating a profound connection to the site.

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A small environmental footprint was paramount to the clients. The first step in achieving this was siting the cabin to preserve the maximum number of living trees, in keeping with the forestry stewardship plan for the property. The cabin was then oriented to take advantage of the prevailing breezes and views to the lake.

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The plan and the radiant heating system were designed so that the north half of the cabin could be closed off when not in use, to reduce energy consumption. Hot exhaust air from the high efficiency fireplace is ducted under the concrete floor slab to provide supplemental heating.

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The cabin is designed for passive cooling and ventilation and orientated to take advantage of the prevailing breezes on the site. To minimize VOCs and resource use, interior and exterior wood surfaces were left untreated. This also helps to maximize indoor air quality. FSC lumber was used throughout the project.

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Good business

The client was interested in achieving a warm, modern cabin on a small footprint. The challenge for the design team lay in making a compact plan that was at the same time expansive and spatially rich. The team worked closely with the builder during the design process to achieve efficiencies in the construction that would free up the section to achieve a sculptural section awash with light.

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The project marries the tradition of rural Ontario wood architecture with sustainability, within a compact modern footprint. Without flourish or superfluous detail the cabin achieves an architectural richness that makes the cabin feel more expansive than it is physically, and deeply engaged in its site and landscape. The project has an unique character and authenticity that result from an unusually profound engagement of the client and the site in the design process.

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Photos: Shai Gil

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