Hannah Spasov | October 2021
Do you have an interest in Ontario cottage country? Would you like to see how architecture can be re-imagined to build equitable futures? Check out thesis project Rebuilding Our Waters: An alternative view of Ontario cottage country through models of community engagement and shared environmental stewardship.
Cottaging is a ‘summer-home’ tradition for many Canadian families and plays an important role in Ontario’s cultural and provincial identity. The North-Hastings – East Haliburton area is a popular cottage destination; however it is also a place of struggle and hardship. There are socioeconomic and geographical tensions resulting from inequalities between local residents, Indigenous communities, seasonal cottagers, and the ecological landscape.
This project considers each group’s history, contemporary situation, and social relationships within the context of the broader region. In the early research stage, a contentious through-line became immediately evident across each stakeholder group: that is the lake, its shores, and who can access them. Here, architecture navigates these complex social dynamics by reimaging shoreline locations as models for community engagement and shared environmental stewardship.
Four design proposals were developed in conjunction with real-world community initiatives at sites along Baptiste Lake, Ontario. Each concept addresses one of the stakeholder’s plights while still being open to all other groups. The goal has been to create spaces that celebrate the landscape without forgetting the people integral to its formation and continued survival.
So far very little research has been conducted about Southern Ontario cottaging and its effects on local communities. Their struggles are often glossed over or outright ignored in municipal planning and property development. Although these proposals are hypothetical, they work to motivate realistic change in Ontario’s cottage country.
The author and creator of the project, Hannah Spasov, is an Intermediate Designer at TABC. Rebuilding Our Waters is the outcome of her Master of Architecture thesis where she studied the relationships between Southern Ontario cottage culture and rural communities. Specifically, the tensions caused by lack of public lake access to Baptiste Lake in the North Hastings area.
To view the project, please visit https://rebuildingourwaters.com. It will also be on display at the Hastings Highlands Public Library for the month of October, 2021. Additionally, if you’d like to build your own cottage, check out TABC’s Wilderness Collection and Green Design!