Post and beam vacation shelter on Georgian Bay

CP Harbor House is a rustic vacation home for two Toronto households on the rocky shores of Georgian Bay, designed by MJ | Architecture. The cottage is an assembly of four discreet enclosures linked by an expansive large wraparound porch and roof that links the two main houses and two guest cabins, and is the site of many impromptu shared meals. Both families required space for entertaining, one family needed a bedroom for the kids, the other family needed a home office and a music room. Tight zoning regulations required that they could only have one house on the site; the final scheme consisted of a massive shed, a post and beam structure of Douglas fir, 20 feet high at its apex, that shelter two separate double-storey but fully insulated structures.

The cabins are connected by an underground basement, where there are two mechanical rooms holding water heaters and an electrical system of solar panels on the roof. The aim for a net zero carbon footprint has led to careful building orientation and configuration, passive heating, cooling and ventilation and wood burning heat. The expense and maintenance of the electrical systems are pooled and the outdoor spaces are common ground. Communal lunches and dinner parties are held on the porch, which provides a flexible armature for hanging seats, swings, beds and Japanese lanterns.

Photos: Terence Tourangeau and Lorne Bridgman