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Practice : Kariouk Architects | Image : Scott Norsworthy

Practice : Kariouk Architects | Image : Scott Norsworthy

m.o.r.e. Cabin

Location: La Peche, Quebec
Architect: Kariouk Architects

Most North American cottages look like they’re at one with the landscape, but they’re often just as unsustainable as other homes. While m.o.r.e. Cabin is physically separated from the landscape, it can also be much kinder to the environment. Cantilevered over a lakeside landscape outside La Pêche, Québec, m.o.r.e. Cabin preserves as much of the forest habitat as possible. It also addresses carbon emissions, construction materials, and processes while providing a home for endangered local brown bats—pods were integrated into the mast to provide safety from climbing predators and a clear flight path to the lake.

Photo Credit: Scott Norsworthy

A zoning variance was obtained to allow the front of m.o.r.e. Cabin to hover above, rather than sit on, the 30-metre (100-foot) setback. Its environmental considerations also yielded structural innovation. It includes a structural strategy using cantilevered cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels as a response to the zoning variance; CLT is fundamentally deployed in vertical/compressive sections, not horizontally in tension.

Photo Credit: Scott Norsworthy

Conventional seven- and even five-ply CLT is too heavy to support itself over longer spans. The solution used thinner three-ply CLT, with structural capacity ensured through “folding”—just like paper gains strength when folded. The 1.5-metre deep fold of the cabin’s 30-metre “box beam belly” is exactly the depth needed to create the desired span and cantilever with three-ply CLT. The box beam is further stiffened by internal glulam ribs, in a way that resembles the logic of a ship’s hull, and the roof’s folded CLT panels yield a structural ridge that mirrors that of the box beam’s fold.

Photo Credit: Scott Norsworthy

The elevated cottage catches more breezes and has excellent cross-ventilation for cooling. Heat is provided by a high-efficiency “green carbon” wood stove. (As wood is not a fossil fuel brought from deep underground, it does not add to the existing carbon cycle.) Good R-value and thermal comfort are provided by CLT’s mass, and precise joinery provides air-tightness. By preserving much of the existing forest and lakeshore, m.o.r.e. Cabin provides a more natural view for other property owners around the lake. As building materials were sized for a smaller truck to prevent the felling of trees along the road, this also helps preserve privacy (and neighbourly relations).

Photo Credit: Scott Norsworthy

The paradigmatic North American cottage is romanticized as a wilderness log cabin. Nonetheless, typical cottages are “woodsy” versions of suburban homes with every modern convenience. These buildings sustain the myth that appearing to be one with the land equates to a reduced impact on the environment.

The m.o.r.e. Cabin inverts this idea through a separation from the landscape that is more sustainably constructed than other cottages. This unravelling of eco-fictions is not cynical, but optimistic—while organic environments are being degraded, what remains can be engaged more responsibly.

This blOAAg post is part of a series exploring the OAA’s 17 Design Excellence Finalists for 2022, as selected by our jury.
Click here to see other projects from this current award cycle.

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