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Considerations for Positioning a Cottage on a Site - Part 1

The success of any architectural project begins with the site. This is especially true for a cottage project. We need to understand the site so we can position a cottage in such a way that it benefits from the opportunities the site provides. Selecting the ideal location for your cottage on a property is an extremely important first step in the design process. It sets the tone for the entire cottage experience, influencing everything from the quality of natural light, the comfort of spaces (both interior and exterior), the views from the cottage, the views of the cottage, and the connection cottagers have with their surrounding landscape. In this article, we will explore the vital role positioning plays in the success of an architectural project. In Part 1 of our consideration of positioning, we will explore natural light, prevailing winds, and the opportunity for featuring views.

Positioning your cottage to optimize natural light can transform the ambiance of your space. Placing larger windows on the south side can allow for generous sunlight exposure, casting a warm and inviting glow throughout the day. This not only creates a brighter atmosphere but also reduces the need for artificial lighting, leading to energy savings. However, solar gains must be carefully considered. In the warmer seasons, an abundance of solar gains can create uncomfortable overheated spaces. Solar gains for heat and light must be balanced with the requirements of the building so that interior spaces are made comfortable.

Understanding prevailing wind patterns is essential for creating comfortable and energy efficient environments. By orienting your cottage to harness prevailing winds, you can facilitate passive natural ventilation, reducing or eliminating the need for an air conditioning system. By positioning windows and doors to capture cooling breezes you can expel warm air in summer. It may also be important to provide outdoor areas that offer protection from the elements (sun, wind, rain) so that time outdoors can be enjoyed in various weather conditions.

A cottage's placement on a property can greatly influence the views it offers. Often there might be a ‘big view’ out to a lake that would be primarily considered, but smaller more intimate views of wooded areas or rock outcroppings can be equally as important. By carefully considering the surrounding landscape, you can frame picturesque scenes and create privacy even when neigbours are relatively close by. A thoughtful orientation can not only allow you to view the beauty of the natural surroundings but it can also help inhabitants feel more connected to the outdoors.  

In Part 2 ‘Considerations For Positioning’ we will explore the topics of transitions and approaches as they relate to building position and understanding your site.

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