Off the grid means many things to many people. The Cliff House on Muskoka Lakes, Ontario, interprets “off the grid” as grand self-sufficiency. Designed by Altius Architecture Inc, the home’s form is both integrated in the landscape’s mass and floats above it using cantilevers and floor-to-ceiling glass. The Cliff House plays with all the elements — stone, water, fire, earth, wind, and sun. Read on to find out how!
Sitting on a ledge above a lake, the mass of this 3200 sq. ft. home echoes that of the large granite boulder it rests upon. The local granite is brought inside to act as a thermal mass for the two fireplaces that bookend the living space. In the summer, prevailing breezes and thermal vent stack, along with a green roof, keep the building naturally cooled. The sun plays the key role of providing electricity thanks to a solar electric system, storage batteries, and a power inverter. There is also a solar thermal system that uses evacuated tubes to heat both the in-floor heating and solar thermal storage tanks.
There are a host of other sustainable features but what is really striking is the home’s sense of relaxation on the land. Its sensitivity in integrated design is accomplished by using design elements and materials that not only look exceptional but enhance the performance of the space.