On the banks of Lake Huron in a remote Canadian town, South African architecture firm SAOTA completed a contemporary summer house that’s strikingly different from the region’s “cabin country” vernacular. Carefully sited to keep the design unobtrusive, the luxury residence maximizes connections to the outdoors with full-height glazing and a layout that optimizes lakeside views. Durable weather-resistant materials, energy-efficient systems and a 15-kW solar array help minimize the home’s environmental footprint to meet the project’s sustainability targets.

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Located about an hour’s drive from London, Ontario, the Lake Huron vacation home departs from the traditional, “somewhat conservative” homes that dot the lakeside with a contemporary design emphasizing clean lines, horizontal massing and a minimalist exterior palette featuring a ceramic-paneled system strong enough to withstand the extremes of the Canadian climate. Despite the home’s eye-catching appearance, the architects allowed the surrounding landscape to largely dictate the design; the building is set back on the property toward the street to preserve a natural bluff located between the lake and forest, while existing mature fir trees were retained to help screen the house from view.

Related: SAOTA’s Benguela Cove design takes rooms with a view seriously

large white island with white bar stools across from a gray sectional sofa
large black dining table with plush beige chairs

“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 via the large pivot door,” the architects explained. “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 foregrounds.”

large white bed facing a wall of glass
freestanding soaking tub beside glass wall revealing views of a lake

Full-height glazing fills the home with natural light while extended roof eaves protect the interiors from solar glare. For optimum building performance, a commercial-grade automation system was installed to control and monitor the home’s functions while the 15-kW solar array that powers the home feeds surplus energy to the grid for credit and later use. In addition to an Ecoflo septic system, an underground stormwater system capable of handling a 100-year storm was installed onsite as well. 


Images via SAOTA