Villa Canadensis - The Ontario Cottage as an instrument of rehabilitation
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The tradition of the summer cottage in Ontario is a testament to Canadians’ close identification with the wilderness. This thesis establishes a link between the Ontario cottage and the ancient villa originating in classical Roman culture, a building type that for over two millennia has given architectural expression to man’s relationship with nature. In the twenty-first century, this relationship is characterized by a deep sense of crisis. This thesis proposes a new classification of the cottage: Villa Canadensis, a synthesis of the fundamental agricultural instincts of the ancient villa and the satisfaction of a productive relationship with the landscape, with the Canadian desire to experience nature in a wilderness setting. The Villa Canadensis will be actively engaged in the cultivation and rehabilitation of the wilderness. The site for rehabilitation is a decommissioned suburban gravel pit near Cambridge, Ontario. It sprawls over 200 acres, and encroaches on several sensitive ecosystems that are unique to the Waterloo region. The proposal is for a community of cottages to be built on the disused site. Through the combination of regenerative architecture and an ecosystem approach to the devastated landscape, the occupants of Villa Canadensis will participate in the stabilization and remediation of the site, and will eventually become stewards of an enhanced ecosystem, a cultivated wilderness that they have helped to create.