The story of Kahshe Lake Cottage started in 1987, when architect Tom Knezic’s parents bought the water-access property and built a small bunkie as a temporary shelter. Their goal was to then design and build their dream family cottage. When the 1989 recession hit, their plans went on hold. In 2015, Tom’s father passed away, and his mother decided that it was time to finish what they had started. Designed “in the family” by Solares Architecture – the firm run by Tom and his wife Christine Lolley – the project is now complete.
Project Name: Kahshe Lake Cottage
Studio Name: Solares Architecture
Project size: 2350 ft2
Site size: 42000 ft2
Completion date: 2020
Building levels: 2
Location: Muskoka, Canada
Photography: Nanne Springer
The bunkie still sits on the original property, surrounded by outdoor projects created over the years, including the firepit, slack lines, bike trails, even a hammock zone. The new cottage is sited on the neighbouring property to the north, acquired more recently for this project. The site is full of forest and Canadian Shield rock, including a large rock outcrop along the lake that rises up to the height of the second floor.
The new cottage is built on steel ground screws to reduce the impact on the forest floor and tree roots, so only trees inside the building footprint needed to be removed. Trees just outside the edge of it could remain and gently exist beside the house.
The building is oriented with the length extending east-west so the main living space has a wide view south towards the original property, with gorgeous views of the forest and the kids playing. The west end of the house looks out to the lake with a huge open-air deck, and the east end is nestled into the forest with a covered deck. There are morning areas, afternoon areas, and evening areas, and you get to enjoy the whole site.
Inside, the house is flipped upside down with main living spaces upstairs and the bedrooms and bathrooms all below. This rearrangement brings the main shared areas of the house high enough to take advantage of the lake views.
The upstairs is one large open space with many different zones for gathering, eating, and relaxing. The inspiration behind the layout of the building is a summer camp, with egalitarian bedrooms and one big mess hall where activity ebbs and flows throughout the day.
Kahshe Lake Cottage is a legacy project, to be enjoyed by multiple generations and passed down for many more to come. Most summer weekends there are four adults, five children and one grandparent all sharing and enjoying the cottage together, with many friends joining in as well. There is no internet and no screens; just play, relaxation and togetherness in nature.