Drôle House Blog

Boardwalk rebuild

{Progress}

I was invited to re-design the beachfront of a cottage property in Catalone, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia that I had previously designed in 2000. The beach has been used and continues to be used by a dozen or more families every summer. The challenges for the 2017 project were to create a shareable common space between the two properties joined at the beach, to provide a 360 degree view life guard station, to reuse parts of the existing removable dock structure and large boulders, establish an area for kayaks, provide safe and easy access for kids to the water, flexible seating arrangements, create a seawall for erosion control including a bridge over a freshwater stream. That's kind of a long list, right? 

It doesn't look too bad here, but this is windswept remnant of the former dock and sitting area. Existing gazebo up the hill in the background.

It doesn't look too bad here, but this is windswept remnant of the former dock and sitting area. Existing gazebo up the hill in the background.

The result was a concept with three part:

1. A large shaded deck to share between properties

2. The screened gazebo/lifeguard station on the point

3. An elevated winding boardwalk to connect the two

Preliminary design, including relocating the gazebo, the boardwalk/bridge, semi-submerged boulders, deck and stepped seating down to the water line..

Preliminary design, including relocating the gazebo, the boardwalk/bridge, semi-submerged boulders, deck and stepped seating down to the water line..

Gazebo on it's new point- boardwalk in progress.

Gazebo on it's new point- boardwalk in progress.

A view to the new seawall with partial boardwalk framing.

A view to the new seawall with partial boardwalk framing.

View to the boardwalk below that jogs around the gazebo.

View to the boardwalk below that jogs around the gazebo.

A view to the steps that lead to the beachouse.

A view to the steps that lead to the beachouse.

A larger view from the beachouse deck to the new gazebo location and boardwalk beyond.

A larger view from the beachouse deck to the new gazebo location and boardwalk beyond.

Framing spans across the (currently dry) stream.

Framing spans across the (currently dry) stream.

The boulders and rocks used as foundation for the structure shore up parts of the beach against erosion. The light framing for the boardwalk span over sensitive slopes and vegetations, and care was taken to maintain trees and shrubs whose roots help protect the bank, as well as to keep prized blueberry patches easily accessible to tiny passersby!

The 12'x24' common deck structure with herringbone cedar decking pattern- in progress.

The 12'x24' common deck structure with herringbone cedar decking pattern- in progress.

The aluminum dock structure attached to the new boardwalk and gazebo.

The aluminum dock structure attached to the new boardwalk and gazebo.

A few of the 20+ cousins and relatives perched on the boulder + stone steps adjacent to the dock.

A few of the 20+ cousins and relatives perched on the boulder + stone steps adjacent to the dock.

One of my favourite outcomes of the project was that children LOVE to run back and forth along the boardwalk, just as I had hoped.  The semi-submerged boulders became welcome rest spots during swimming, and were nicknamed "mermaid rocks". This new beachfront will be enjoyed by many families for years to come.

beach_in_use
A view westward on Catalone lake from the completed upper boardwalk. Cedar railing with wire guards.

A view westward on Catalone lake from the completed upper boardwalk. Cedar railing with wire guards.

*A special thanks to Rose Taljaard for many of the photographs.

~Deborah

{Progress} - Haliburton Container House

Design and drawing work take up the bulk of my working hours. Most people (me included!), charmed by colourful fast-paced design shows expect to see only the tidy befores-and-afters, and nothing in between. In the first of this {progress} series, I will show you a few of Drôle House's current projects, from sketches, to working drawings, to renderings and to the finished construction site photos. Here's a peek at an unusual off-grid cottage I've been working on for months that is slated for construction this spring.

Early two storey version of the conceptual design.

Early two storey version of the conceptual design.

Sketch of the overall roof massing and form of the six shipping containers.

Sketch of the overall roof massing and form of the six shipping containers.

A preliminary rendering of the front entrance, playing with textures and materials for siding and roofing.

A preliminary rendering of the front entrance, playing with textures and materials for siding and roofing.

The house (or cottage, rather) is made up of six recycled shipping containers, insulated and clad mainly on the exterior. It's set in the woods in Haliburton County (a few hours north of Toronto), on an undeveloped property (no power, no road, no sewer). It's planned to contain one barrier-free master suite, and four other small bedrooms, and it fits within an 1820 sqft footprint on one floor. It's super insulated on the exterior, has a photovoltaic (PV) array, propane backup tanks, it's own well and septic bed.

Permit plan -- also called 'working drawings".

Permit plan -- also called 'working drawings".

Elevations, showing the building faces orthographically (flat 90 degree interpretation) used for precise measuring and permit drawings.

Elevations, showing the building faces orthographically (flat 90 degree interpretation) used for precise measuring and permit drawings.

The clients were excited about building with containers and being off grid. The benefits of containers include - simple screw-pile foundations that require no excavation and therefore less disruption to a wooded site, have an almost instant shelter when beginning construction once lifted into place, and are so sturdy they can be stacked nine high! We didn't need that height for this project, but being a rural site, it will be convenient to keep the crew sheltered and tools safe from the start.

A final rendering before construction begins.

A final rendering before construction begins.

What have you heard about container houses? Would you live in one?

~Deborah