From AKB Architects: Lake Rosseau Boathouse is a 2 storey wood clad building and dock situated on Tobin’s Island in Muskoka Lakes, Ontario. Comprising of 2 bedrooms, bath, living area and 3 slip boat storage at water level, this 2300 s.f. lakefront structure serves the adjacent cottage as a guest residence offering an unobstructed panoramic view to the lake and shoreline beyond.
The architect was tasked to design an elegant, durable, and eco-friendly structure that would blend with the rugged natural surroundings while also expressing the use of all-natural materials. Keeping in mind that all construction products had to be brought over by boat to the island, the light weight nature and modularity of western cedar was a key factor in its selection and became the prime material of the overall construction.

Courtesy: AKB Architects

Our first choice was to select a durable lightweight exterior siding material that could contend with the harsh seasonal climates without having to rely on paints or stains. AKB selected a charred cedar wood siding (shou sugi ban) from a supplier (South Parry Lumber) in the region who just started producing the product. The intrinsic properties of this type of cedar siding and the ancient Japanese technique of surface charring the wood informed the overall design. The charring creates a wear layer for increased durability and reduced susceptibility to fire, pests, & rot over the life of the siding while creating a desirable aesthetic effect.

Various textures of wood were used ranging from horizontal & vertical cedar boards, as well as a dramatic cantilevered trellis and horizontal lattice all constructed with cedar using the ‘shou sugi ban’ method.

The 4000 sf dock was completely constructed with weathered cedar offering a generous social gathering and recreational space that provides access to deeper waters. The predominant structural components used throughout were prefabricated wood TJI joists, wood wall structure framing and LVL beams which allowed for ease of transportability and reduced site waste.

To keep the wood theme consistent throughout the project we contrasted the interior wall finishes by using a light Baltic birch marine grade smooth plywood for all the wall and ceiling paneling for the 2nd storey. The expansive cantilevered soffits were built with fir marine grade plywood stained to match the Baltic birch. The expansive boat storage area walls and ceilings are completely clad with a lightly stained fir plywood to offer a bright ambiance and to more practically contend with the anticipated exposure to the elements. This allowed us to create a warm, inviting and bright interior to contrast with the dramatic dark exterior that blends with the dense wall of trees in its backdrop.

The beauty and warmth of wood plays a critical role in the work of AKB and the Lake Rosseau project is a definitive representation of the success that wood brings to the design.

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