Bigwin Island Club Cabins

Architect: MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects

Owner: Eagle Landing Company - John S. Wadsworth Jr.

Location: Baysville, Ontario

Category: Multifamily Housing (category three)

The cabin’s sheltering Muskoka shingled roofs appear to float on the grazing line that the deer have created in the forest, affording views from the centre of the island to the lake.

The Bigwin Island Club Cabins are located on an island, in the middle of a lake, in the Muskoka region in Ontario, on the Canadian shield landscape. Their forms derive from the specifics of this place, while asserting a proto-Muskoka house form - a porch house under a monolithic, shingled, sheltering roof. The datum of the cabins is the broad soffit of the roof, which sits on the bed box, the hearth and the screened porch elements below. This strategy reinforces the grazing line of the deer, who are the real architects of the island.

Like much of the work of MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple, the Bigwin Island Club Cabins are both of their place, and belong to the history of architecture, and timeless, universal architectural principles. They balance the psychological need for both prospect and refuge and are part of a search for archetypal presence.

Additional information

Design team: Brian MacKay-Lyons, Talbot Sweetapple, Jennifer Esposito, Jonny Leger, Duncan Patterson, Diana Carl, William Green, Rimon Soliman, Will Perkins, Matt Jones, Alastair Bird  

Engineer-Structural: Blackwell Structural Engineers  

Landscape Architect: Baker Turner Inc.  

General Contractor: Greystone Construction


Simon Ha, AIA (Jury Chair), Steinberg Hart, Los Angeles, California

Kai-Uwe Bergmann, FAIA, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), New York, New York

Hans Butzer, AIA, Butzer Architects and Urbanism, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Mary Cerrone, AIA, Mary Cerrone Architects, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Elizabeth Blasius, The Architect’s Newspaper, Chicago, Illinois

Image credits

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DoubleSpace Photography

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Bigwin Island Club Cabins-07 R

DoubleSpace Photography