Lodge at Dry Pine Bay, French River, ON

design of Private Lodge Facility

This project for a private shoreline retreat is located just north of the French River Canadian Heritage Waterway on the northeast shore of Dry Pine Bay adjacent to Meshaw Falls. The clients, extreme outdoor enthusiasts, and notable figures in the culinary industry requested the design of a flexible familial compound conceived of as a lodge that would however eschew a traditional approach towards vernacular typologies while producing atmospheres and effects that amplify the characteristics of terroir; an architectural parallel of modernist cuisine set against the rugged landscape of the Canadian Shield.

The relationship between client and architect has developed over the past twenty years, most memorably forged through shared experiences of wilderness adventure on the one hand, and gourmet culinary experimentation on the other during which we have debated questions surrounding what constitutes the essential, or rather, an essence. The Lodge at Dry Pine Bay is a product of these discussions: an architectural proposition intended as a framework that can produce a range of collective and intimate encounters - both social and between the inhabitants and the extreme landscape of the near-north.

The lodge is positioned relative the site’s specific geologic features and spatial qualities of enclosure by a mature stand of coniferous forest, descent and expanse over lichen covered gneiss capstone. One arrives from a high point on the north via an existing gravel roadway. Approach on foot moves parallel to a significant rock outcropping that disrupts the otherwise gentle slope of the underlying gneiss. Moving down and alongside this outcrop, a shallow declivity formed during the glacial retreat conveys surficial water towards the bay. The mass of the building is pressed tight against the outcrop, bridging the drainage declivity and extending towards the bay. The organization of the lodge consists of the intersection of two volumes: a low inhabited bar and a lofty living hall. The bar provides both lateral and transverse passage and houses storage, convertible sleeping quarters and a bathing pavilion. The living hall, with its large gazed walls to the southeast and southwest is the collective staging ground for extended family gatherings, raucous celebrations, visits with friends or business colleagues, and events that center around gastronomy and outdoor excursions. The rectilinearity of the architecture is disrupted by two sculpted elements: a double-sided plate steel hearth and a multistory volume cast into the rock, enclosing a below-grade wine cellar, a lounge and writing perch with views to the sky and the bay, offering opportunities for retreat from the social intensity of the living hall.

Each of the main program zones are linked by a sequence of ambulatory spaces that extend the experience of traversing the site and amplifying the conditions of the local terrain while prolonging arrival. The landscape forms an integral part of the interior experience: tight views of the rock outcropping flank the passage to the bedrooms, the living hall opens on to a large sunny terrace with views across the bay, and the bathing pavilion provides access to the ideal sunset rock. The nearby falls deposit fine stones and sediment onto the southeast extent of the site forming a gentle edge for water access, which is otherwise characterized by abrupt rock outcroppings that drop into the deep waters of the bay. 

Typology Private Lodge Facility
date 2012-2014
location Alban ON, Canada
scale 6500 sf
scope Site planning, project design and systems coordination


Architects Geoffrey Thün, Kathy Velikov (partners) (rvtr)
Team / Consultants Eric Meyer, Mary O’Malley, Adam Smith, Caileigh MacKellar, Matt Storus, Matt Peddie
Structural Blackwell. David Bowick.
Electrical Mulvey and Banini