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Inside a striking summer home retreat nestled on Lake Heron, Ontario

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This fabulous summer home retreat was designed by Matter Architectural Studio Inc. in collaboration with SAOTA Architects, set on the banks of Lake Heron, in Ontario, Canada. This home is Cape Town-based architecture firm SAOTA’s first completed project in Canada, extending the possibilities of the traditional lakeside family retreat through a contemporary architectural approach.

SAOTA has taken great care to keep the design unobtrusive and sensitive to its setting, while still making an architectural statement. The area is renowned as somewhat conservative, know as “cottage country” to local residents, so the architects were mindful when creating this one-of-a-kind masterpiece.

Project Team: Architect: Matter Architectural Studio Inc. | Lead Designers: SAOTA | Structural Engineer: Concentric Engineering | Electrical Engineer: Capson Electrical | Contractor: MCI Design-Build Corporation | Landscaping: MHLA Inc | Lighting Design: SAOTA with assistance from Lux Populi | Interior Designer: ARRCC | Bespoke Furniture: OKHA

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This home is a showpiece in design, technology and sustainability, which meaningfully connecting with its beautiful natural setting and exploring new alternatives to enhancing the lifestyle experience of the family summer getaway. 

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The site is a bluff occupying the transitional space between water and forest, rising 3.5m from road level and then dropping down to the water to create a grassy embankment. The building is set back on the property towards the street to preserve the natural bluff.

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On approach, the house is largely concealed by the surrounding mature fir trees, appearing as a simple light-colored stone box floating effortlessly between the tree trunks.

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Conceptually, the design consists of a series of stacked and suspended rectangular boxes, one embedding the building into the ground plane, the other suspended overhead to allow the living level to exist between the volumes. An indoor/outdoor volume to the south anchors the building and maximizes the site’s lakeside views while allowing the living spaces to occupy the foreground. A bank of bedrooms projects backwards above the garage.

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The way in which the building is largely obscured from the street and in turn screens views of the lake helps build suspense on arrival, only to satisfy the sense of anticipation on entry via the large pivot door. From the threshold, a dramatic triple-volume atrium lets in natural light and draws the eye outwards towards the view.

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What We Love: This exquisite summer home retreat takes advantage of the natural topography, surrounded by an idyllic setting of forest and lake. Large expanses of glass soak in the unforgettable views and natural light, allowing this home’s inhabitants to enjoy the four distinct seasons of this region. Custom details throughout the design makes it very unique, an architectural masterpiece that will delight the senses for both the owners and their guests.

Tell Us: What do you think of this Canadian home, do you think it is too over the top for a vacation home or could you find yourself right at home living here? Let us know in the Comments below!

Note: Have a look at a couple of our favorite home tours that we have featured here on One Kindesign from the portfolio of the architects of this project, SAOTA: Brilliantly designed South African home with magnificent ocean views and Striking hillside home overlooking the white sandy beaches of South Africa.

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The finishes, externally and internally, favor a ceramic paneled system robust and hard-wearing enough to prove long-lasting in the extremes of the Canadian climate, which together with the home’s energy efficiency and the general longevity of the project and its materials, components and fittings contribute to its sustainability.

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Programmatically, in keeping with the homeowner’s brief, the spaces are fluid, the levels easy to navigate and the layout simple and well-structured, allowing for a casual atmosphere. The vast central volume is subtly contrasted with more intimate and contained volumes in the kitchen and other living spaces for a varied and articulated spatial experience. 

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The upper-level of this summer home retreat encompasses the master bedroom, devoted entirely to the owners’ private space, including an office and a gym. To the front of the house, a covered outdoor entertainment area flanks a swimming pool. A boardwalk and staircase descend to a refurbished cabin that predated the house, and now houses a guest suite and additional outdoor entertainment area to facilitate long summer days playing on the lake. 

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The owner’s favorite room is the ‘engine room’ on the lowest floor, which houses all the building services infrastructure. A commercial-grade Building Automation System (BAS) controls and monitors the home, ensuring optimum performance at all times. A 15kw solar array provides power to the home and excess power is regularly fed back into the utility grid for credit and later use. The limited municipal infrastructure for stormwater and sewer resulted in an on-property underground stormwater system that can handle a 100-year storm and an eco-flo septic system to deal with all sewer requirements on site.

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The rear of the house, facing Lake Huron, dissolves into a two-storey wall of glass washing natural light deep into the interiors.

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Photos: Adam Letch Photography

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One Kindesign has received this project from our submissions page. If you have a project you would like to submit, please visit our submit your work  page for consideration! 

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