Cliff House Altius beach

The design alone is breathtaking – beautiful prairie-style horizontals, organic materials and abstract modern compositions that shift from every perspective. Add to that its self-sufficient and site-specific considerations and you really have a dwelling to write home about.

Cliff House Altius front

Set in rural northern Ontario, this glass, stone and wood wonder rises right up out of the bedrock atop a multi-story cliff overlooking a series of lakes and forests far below.

Cliff House Altius at dusk

Sustainable strategies are integrated throughout the series of split-level floors that interlock to form cozy interior volumes.

Cliff House Altius view

Passive lighting and circulation are complimented by natural heating and cooling as well as active solar photovoltaics and water heating, powering mellow and diffused area lights at night as needed.

Cliff House Altius kitchen bar

Traditional fireplaces also help heat the house during the coldest months of the year, while concrete walls absorb daytime heat via their thermal mass and orientation then release it at night.

Thermal glass holds warmth in during winter while a green roof keeps things cool in the summer, reinforcing with materials and nature the other cycles and systems regulating temperature within the building. Design by Altius Architecture.

Cliff House Altius bedroom

“Set on the Cliffside of a much-cherished lake, this cottage seeks to enhance the extraordinary surrounding scenery through the thoughtful integration of building elements with the natural assets of the site and terrain. This dwelling emerges form the rock formation of the cliff using the same local granite to form its base. A central core acts as an anchor that circulates movement, light and air into the living spaces that pinwheel and cantilever off into the landscape. In spite of its modest scale, the residence easily accommodates the family of four by providing amenity for dinning, cooking, living, reading and sleeping which are each carefully tuned to the unique view, light and breezes of the cliff. To balance the heavy mass derived from the fireplaces; cantilevered volumes, flying roofs and floor to ceiling glass are used to achieve a lightness of form as it works to bring the lake into the living spaces. “

“Living lightly on the site was important to the owners due to their strong mandate for sustainability. As a retreat from urban life, the desire to become completely self sufficient and independent from external infrastructure became critical in the design of a completely off grid residence. A two tiered approach is implemented to take advantage of both passive strategies which work to reduce energy loads and augment comfort so that the active strategies are sufficient to provide for the remaining energy needs. Energy efficient design in this case is not divorced from the experiential qualities of the dwelling but is used to enhance the unification of building to the landscape for the pleasure of its owners. “