University of Toronto Magazine University of Toronto Magazine

Rooms with a Breeze

A compact cottage experience

Shane Williamson turned to a two-room doghouse commonly found in the American Southeast as the design inspiration for a compact cottage that celebrates the warm winds of summer.

The assistant professor in the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design and his wife, architect Betsy Williamson, link the rooms in Dogtrot with a covered porch, which Shane eloquently calls “a breezeway.” Mother Nature not only provides the ventilation system; she supplies the construction materials, Douglas fir and cedar. In return, Dogtrot leaves only a minimal footprint on the dark forest floor. Tuck a composting toilet in the privacy of the bush, and you’re set for the summer.

Or use Dogtrot as an adjunct to your main cottage. Shane sees its potential as a fresh take on bunkhouses, often seen behind cottages in northern Ontario. These bunkies, which typically hold only bunk beds, can be constructed without a building permit because they’re less than 100 square feet. Dogtrot doesn’t need a permit either, because the rooms that straddle the porch are each below the limit. And with Dogtrot’s additional room, you have space for even more friends.

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  1. One Response to “ Rooms with a Breeze ”

  2. University of Toronto Magazine says:

    C’mon, Canadians! If I could learn that a “serviette” is a paper napkin during my years at U of T, you guys could learn that a “dogtrot” is not a house for canines. It’s a type of folk housing, common to the Old South, in which two single enclosed rooms are linked by an open passageway and the whole structure is covered by a common roof. People lived in dogtrots – especially in the first half of the 20th century. Dogtrots are practical. In the sultry climate, the passageway catches the breeze. They may be ordinary folks’ adaptation of the elite Georgian mansion of the 18th century, which always featured a prominent central hallway flanked by symmetrical suites of rooms.

    Karal Ann Marling
    BA 1967 St. Michael’s