The Cat’s Pajamas: Feline Chalet

This cozy chalet in Collingwood, Ontario, designed by Atelier RZLBD, takes a unique approach to architecture and forms an image of a cat lying on the ground.

Feline Chalet (Photo credit: Riley Snelling)

Feline Chalet is a ski chalet located in Collingwood, Ontario, designed by Atelier RZLBD, which features views towards Blue Mountain on the north-west and the Osler Bluff on the south-west, as well as a small creek flowing into Georgian Bay on the east end.

The project, which responds to the characteristics of the site and the client’s vision for a refuge, is divided into three structures; the public / living / ceremonial (the “hut”), the transitional (the “bridge”), and the private / sleeping / functional (the “cave”), all of which are arranged from west to east respectively on the north edge of the site.

While the Feline Chalet’s purpose is to create a refuge for the family during cold winters in Collingwood, the name derives from the image it forms of a cat lying on the ground. Both visually and metaphorically, the “hut” intends to be a head with two eyes, the “cave” a body with four legs, and the “bridge” a neck that connects the two.

Feline Chalet (Photo credit: Riley Snelling)

The “hut” is a large cubic structure (9m x 9m x 7m), finished in wood both inside (plywood) and outside (charred wood). It features just one room, which is dedicated to the rituals of gathering around the fire and of celebrating the two mountain views.

The structure is rotated 45 degrees so that the two triangular windows on the west walls can face the two mountains perpendicularly. On the inside of the structure, the west corner between the two triangular windows is the focal point of all interior organizations, which is signified by a fireplace suspended from the ceiling.

The floor uses a modular seating solution and is susceptible to various configurations. The square floor plan is bisected diagonally, in which the first half is double-height while the second half towards the kitchen, dining room on the ground floor and mezzanine on the second floor are each single-height.

The “cave” is a modular structure, finished in a contrasting material. The structure features an entry, a change room, a garage, and four democratic bedrooms on the south side and bathrooms, a laundry room, and a mechanical room on the north side, with a long corridor in the middle. The four bedrooms are made equal and are modest in size with the same window in each room looking south.

Feline Chalet (Photo credit: Riley Snelling)

The “bridge” is a long and narrow structure that features a staircase and a corridor that continues from the “cave.” It transitions between the public and the private spaces while also compensating for the level difference between the two structures.

The house takes an approach to architecture both regional and rational since it is broken up into three structures and aims to establish progressive architectural culture in the area, showcasing the possibility of building that is “technical and poetic, modern and vernacular.”

 

PROJECT FACTS & CREDITS

Architects: Atelier RZLBD

Design Lead: RZLBD (Reza Aliabadi)

Design Assistant: James Chungwon Park

Project Team: Katie Wang, Levi Bruce

Structural Engineer: Joe Lee Engineering Co. LTD.

Mechanical Engineer: V & P Enterprises

Construction Management: Shima Homes

Site Area: 7291 m2

Footprint: 200 m2

GFA: 360 m2

Structure: Steel & Wood Framing

Design: 2020 to 2022

Completion: Winter 2024

Feline Chalet (Photo credit: Riley Snelling)
Feline Chalet (Photo credit: Riley Snelling)
Feline Chalet (Photo credit: Riley Snelling)
Feline Chalet (Photo credit: Riley Snelling)
Feline Chalet (Photo credit: Riley Snelling)
Feline Chalet (Photo credit: Riley Snelling)
Feline Chalet (Photo credit: Riley Snelling)
Feline Chalet (Photo credit: Riley Snelling)