- Project Name
- The Bear Stand
- Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
- Project Types
- Single Family
- Project Scope
- New Construction
- 3,245 sq. feet
- Year Completed
- Shared by
- Project Status
2018 Builder's Choice & Custom Home Design Awards
Project of the Year
When a pair of shanghai-based clients requested a house as beautiful as it is livable in the Canadian province of Ontario—where temperatures fluctuate from below zero to scorching hot—U.S. firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson spared no efforts to fulfill their request; the architects spent their initial site visit in late summer 2011 tent-camping on the property over several days.
“Gathered around a warm campfire, we shared meals, paddled the lake, hiked the land, and navigated the intense swarms of mosquitoes populating the nearby wetlands,” says the firm’s principal-in-charge Robert Miller. “The time spent during this visit was invaluable in helping us understand the family’s needs, as well as their vision for guest accommodations and entertainment.”
On the remote, wooded site approximately three hours northeast of Toronto, the Bear Stand—the family’s 3,245-square-foot lakeside retreat from their transcontinental lifestyle—recalls former childhood reveries of adventure and exploration in the forest. Originally, the project’s objective centered around fulfilling the family’s desire for allowing their young daughter a base to connect with her Canadian relatives, but eventually expanded to include welcoming visitors from all parts of the world when the clients decided to rent the house to vacationing families. As such, the design team and its Apsley, Ontario–based builders, Brickman Construction, were tasked with the challenge of arranging the spaces to accommodate the needs of the family, as well as those of visiting guests.
Nestled between Contau Lake and a granite rock-face rising to the south, the 99-acre site was once owned by previous generations of the client’s family. Vehicular access to the property is restricted to create a remote experience, enhanced by a series of canoe docks, boardwalks, and a private walking trail that encourage exploration by land and water. The architects placed the two-story residence’s primary living and dining spaces on the ground level, so gatherings can spill to the outdoors. The home’s private rooms, including its sleeping and bathing spaces, are sited on the upper level to afford views of the lake and forest.
To accommodate visiting parties, three guest suites, a bunk room with four beds, and a den with a pull-out bed fill out the level. A glazed stair volume adjacent to the hillside is anchored by a monolithic fireplace clad in locally sourced granite that connects the two levels. The home’s interiors, finished in rich yet subtle materials such as fir windows, brushed walnut flooring, and benches and bar tops reclaimed from a local barn lend softness to the building, while a “raft” composed of Douglas fir glulam beams cantilevers out over the black fiber cement–paneled and stained-cedar façade to blend with the forested environment.
Outside, a sauna, soaking tub, and screened porch allow inhabitants enjoyment of the surroundings within a short stretch from the interiors. “This is a mature work,” said the jury. “Solid, refined, and resolved.”—L.D.
“The materiality is lovely. the spaces are grand, but not overwhelming—clean and proportioned.” — Juror Meg Graham
2017 Residential Architect Design Awards
Custom House More Than 3,000 Square Feet | Award
The Bear Stand is a 3,245-square-foot single-family residence located about 130 miles northeast of Toronto in Gooderham, Ontario. The design team at Bohlin Cywinski Jackson in association with Bohlin Grauman Miller was tasked with creating a family retreat for a couple that spends their professional life in Shanghai that could double as a vacation rental when they are away in China.
The extensively glazed two-story house is laid out east to west, parallel to the south shoreline of Contau Lake. Primary living spaces are on the first floor, with a double-height living room anchored by a locally sourced granite fireplace that’s shared with a screened porch. Circulation is located along the south side of the building, with a stair leading to the upper level that follows the topography. A family room overlooks the living room, with most of the second floor dedicated to sleeping areas. The master suite encompases a private wing to the south, with a bath outfitted with soaking tubs that opens out to the to 100-acre woodland site.
The cabin aesthetic features a variety of wood: Exposed Douglas fir glulam beams and decking complement stained cedar siding, and wire brushed walnut floors. Black fiber-cement board panels and board-formed concrete walls supplement the varied woods, adding tactile variety within a constrained palette of carefully detailed finishes. “This is a really beautiful project, and the contrast of materials is really compelling,” Katherine Chia said.
Year-round accessibility was important and, due to the remote location and extreme winters, it was necessary to provide a backup generator and fuel storage of sufficient size for extended periods of use. But those necessities are hidden from view. “It’s really elegantly done, and makes it look effortless,” David Baker said. “I just want to hang out there.” —E.K.
Visit ARCHITECT to see the rest of the winners of the 2017 Residential Architect Design Awards.
FROM THE ARCHITECTS:
Located approximately three hours northeast of Toronto, Ontario, this 3,300 sq. ft. retreat is carefully situated along the shores of Contau Lake on a remote, seasonally isolated woodland spanning nearly 100 acres. Recalling childhood adventures exploring the surrounding lakes and forest, the clients wished to share this unique place with others by creating a place of reprieve to be rented to vacationing families.
Nestled between the lake and an adjacent granite rock-face rising up to the south, the retreat serves as a jumping-off point to an expansive private trail network fashioned by the client. A series of delicate canoe docks and boardwalks knit shallow marshes with hilltop perches, urging exploration by both water and land. Vehicular access ends at the property, which backs onto government Crown Lands, creating a truly remote sensory experience.
The two-story residence stretches parallel to the lake and rock face, with primary living and dining spaces at ground level spilling to the outdoors, and sleeping and bathing spaces perched above to capture expansive views of the lake and surrounding forest. The two levels are connected by a glazed stair volume adjacent the hillside and anchored by a monolithic fireplace clad in locally sourced granite. Outdoor amenities such as a private sauna, ofuro soaking tub, hot tub, and screened porch allow immediate enjoyment of the surroundings within comfortable reach of the interior space.
A raft of exposed Douglas fir glulam beams and decking cantilevers out over a rhythmic façade of black fiber-cement panels and stained cedar siding that mimic the lines of the forest. Interiors are finished with fir windows, wire brushed walnut flooring, benches and bar tops reclaimed from a nearby barn, and hand-crafted tile. This rich palette of materials lends a tactile softness to the building that blends seamlessly with the natural environment.