A Sustainable Approach

Society’s recent shift towards more environmentally sensitive green construction is drastically changing the world of architecture. Ontario’s cottage country has always focused on more rustic ways of living, though not necessarily to the extent they are now. For many years, ATA has been concerned about sustainability. Our approach has been to propose a more organic approach to architecture and the use of natural materials to make residences or cottages become part of the surrounding landscape rather than detached from it. It is also important to create an energy-efficient building that employs as many green principles as possible (such as local or recycled wood, local stone, and fixtures and fitments by local craftsmen and manufacturers).

In the case of the Belle Point Cottage on Lake Rosseau, we integrated many sustainable elements. As Alex Temporale states, “Often, people try to move suburbia to Muskoka. I can’t understand why because most people want to escape to something different, to be near nature. I am delighted to do something different.”

To begin, we sited the cottage low to the ground so it overlooked the waterfront, worked around the natural landscape and preserved as many existing trees as possible. The design also incorporated traditional sloped roofs and dormers to lower the roofline and yet protected and sheltered the house and outdoor rooms from rain and snow. These features aided in integrating the building with the natural setting.

In addition, Belle Point features many of the firm’s organic and green principles. The use of wood is especially prominent, employed in the shingles, cladding, windows, doors and most interior finishes from the kitchen to the reclaimed floorboards. The interior walls are painted an elegant cream colour, which helps keep the interior warm and bright in appearance.

There are panoramic views on three sides of the cottage, which are unbroken by the lack of railing at the deck perimeter. Mature trees (that ATA avoided clearing) help integrate the cottage into the landscape, fitting with the ATA’s ideals and the client’s goals.