bigwin island club cabins respect the indigenous history of their natural context

bigwin island club cabins respect the indigenous history of their natural context

mackay-lyons sweetapple architects presents the first three cabins of a larger planned community across ontario’s bigwin island. the design team will strategically orient each of the planned forty cabins based on its relationship with the sweeping views, the lake, and the golf course, with an emphasis on a transparency between roof and floor, and earth and sky. the collection of cabins will together follow three design templates, each influenced by a different landscape feature found on the island — linear on the lake, courtyard in the woods, and pinwheel on the meadow.

all images by doublespace photography



the design process of mackay-lyons sweetapple architects is strongly driven by an attention to its natural context and its historical significance. named for chief john bigwin, the island had been a place of significance to the region’s indigenous population and home to sacred spaces. throughout the 20th century, the site had hosted a glittering luxury resort which had since fallen to disuse. property owner jack wadsworth, in his plan for the island’s revitalization, rejected a proposed 150-room hotel in favor of 40 guest houses designed with respect for the island’s history and the area’s distinctive architectural aesthetic.



the quietly assertive design, fabricated from natural materials, references the grand protective roofs of the region’s historic cottages and boathouses. each of the bigwin island club cabins is assembled from a seamless and simple kit of parts comprising a screened-in porch, deck, hearth, great room, sleeping box, and roof. an extruded box clad in shiplapped wood adjoins a glass pavilion hosting a living and dining space, topped by a deep hip roof. with an understated exterior, the interior is dramatic and lofty with ceilings rising to a peak. each cabin employs practical construction techniques and a simplicity of craft, and is situated along the ground in a way which minimizes disruption of the landscape.



project info:


project title: bigwin island club cabins

architecture: mackay-lyons sweetapple architects

location: bigwin island golf club, 1137 old highway 117, baysville, ontario

completion date: october, 2018

project size: 520 acres

club cabin area: 1,250 – 1,350 square feet

lead designer: brian mackay-lyons

project architects: jennifer esposito, diana carl

project team: jonny leger, duncan patterson, william green, rimon soliman, will perkins, matt jones, alastair bird

landscape architecture: baker turner inc.

structural engineer: blackwell structural engineers

construction: greystone construction

project manager: dave smith, eagle landing

photography: doublespace photography

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