Bunkie on the Hill
By : Dubbeldam Architecture + Design
GRANDS PRIX DU DESIGN – 16th edition
Discipline : Architecture
Categories : Residential Building / Cottage & Country House : Gold Certification
The smallest in a collection of cabins scattered across four family properties, Bunkie on the Hill serves as a space of respite for a family-oriented client in the Muskoka Highlands. The Bunkie, tucked into the trees at the top of a steep slope, was designed to provide a quiet space away from the action of the multi-generational family cottages below.
A contemporary take on the conventional A-frame shape evokes the traditional cabin in the woods, differentiated by shifted roof volumes. The split roof with two intersecting gables creates opportunities for windows where the roofs separate and open up. These geometric openings allow curated, inspiring views to the treetops on one side and lake below on the other. The converging rooflines are reminiscent of the layers of shale rock in the landscape that build up and overlap in angular planes. This move allows natural light deep into the interior of the space, reflecting off the sharp roof angles and creating both dramatic angular lines in light and shadow, with a nod to the spiritual. It also generates very different elevations on each side of the cabin. The elevation facing the lake is tall, narrow and fully-glazed while the forest elevation is wider, more closed and includes a cut out for a covered entrance.
The interior of the Bunkie is compact but functional. Small nooks and built-in benches provide additional storage. Each interior space is designed with a curated, framed view to the exterior landscape, trees, or lake below. The upper loft space contains a built-in desk with a view overlooking the living space below and the expansive lake beyond, as well an extra space for sleeping. The bedroom, tucked at the rear of the structure, includes immersive views of the forest.
Natural materials were selected to complement the rustic context. Darkened cedar siding contrasts the natural cedar soffits and screen framing the entrance, sitting atop the raw board-formed concrete base. Interior materials include oak flooring, red cedar slats and maple plywood, contrasted by dark charcoal window frames, stone counters, and furniture. The variety of wood species designate the different planes in the space – the inside perimeter walls are clad in white wallboard, while all interior partitions are clad in maple plywood and the ceiling is delineated cedar slats.
Sustainability in materials and construction was important to the client. The exterior walls have been thickened to act as a passive insulator with an R-value of over 40, with triple-glazed windows, allowing the furnace in the crawl space below to be a small as possible. Thermal bridges were eliminated, even with the steel structure by using flitch beams. The base of the Bunkie is raised, board-formed concrete sitting on top of the natural rock contours, resulting in zero blasting or deep footings – instead, the structure is sitting lightly on the landscape. The wood products are FSC-rated and the few fixtures are low flow/low energy. Any patina of materials over time is intentional: as time passes the Bunkie blends back into its forested, hill setting.