Bigwin Island Club Cabins / MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects

The two existing central open clearings, or meadows, on the site are fundamental to the master plan and recall Tom Thompson’s original cabin design. They create an internal community focus which pulls the cottages away from the site edges minimizing the impact on the golf course. The placement of the flexible field of the cottages then frames a series of smaller neighborhood courts as one passes through the site.

Architects: MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects
Location: Bigwin Island, Baysville, ON, Canada
Photography: Doublespace

The Muskoka building tradition favors a big sheltering roof, which produces a centering cathedral ceiling. It is characterized by the absolute necessity of a generous screened porch, a totemic grounding hearth, and covered porches that mediate between a private interior and the landscape. Its material culture consists of wood shingles and shiplap cladding.

The Architecture of our proposal begins with the archetypal ‘Pavilion in the Forest’ with its generous abstracted hipped roof which defines a dwelling place in the landscape.

The three prototypes: 1. Linear on the Lake, 2. The court in the Woods, and 3. The pinwheel on the Meadow corresponds to the three site zones. They are fundamentally distinguished from one another by the relationship between the private bed box, the transparent great room, and the floating roof.

Each of these can, in turn, be further customized by a grammar that allows alternate placement of totemic elements around the great room (screened porch, hearth, and covered porch). A further variation is created by the way that the individual cottages are aggregated, defining outdoor social places between community and privacy.

We have set out a design language that both brings unity to the site and offers meaningful variety. Theme and variation. The cottages are both familiar and incredibly flexible, enabling sales. This is a systematic approach both in terms of formal possibilities and building construction.