Design Process

We develop a project through five interlocking stages.

From early discussions, through design sketches, technical drawings and 3D-visualizations to the construction itself, we are there with you every step of the way providing an on-site presence and design continuity.

Information-gathering is critical to the outcome of your project. It’s a time for asking questions, both big and small, and setting out priorities.

We begin with your hopes and dreams for your new cottage.Maclaren research sketch

  • What spaces appeal to you or linger in your memory?
  • What images do you have in your mind, a folder or a scrapbook? What sketches have you doodled to bring your dream to life?
  • What spaces and materials resonate with this site, in this time, to this family?
  • What kind of spaces do you need? How many bedrooms or washrooms? How many people will be sitting at the dinner table?
  • Where is the best swimming and how can we easily get there barefoot?
  • What is an appropriate and feasible budget?

As we explore every nook and cranny of the site with you, we document the views, orientation, access, existing structures, and shoreline character, all the while keeping in mind the natural environs surrounding your site.

  • Where does the sun rise?
  • Where do you need shade?
  • What are the prevailing winds?
  • What is the vegetation?

We investigate municipal zoning by-laws, and issues with other organizations having jurisdiction over built forms. We then assess how long it may take to secure approvals.

Maclaren Research cottage sketch

With a clear understanding of your needs, tentative ideas and fleeting impressions, we begin to synthesize the information through sketches and renderings.Maclaren Schematic Design 1

In our case, these initial drawings are old-school, hand-sketched designs. They typically include a site plan, floor plans and an elevation or other exterior view of the structure. These drawings attempt to balance the competing and often contradictory demands of the spatial program, planning requirements, site conditions, budget restrictions, as well as your expressed hopes and dreams.

Maclaren Schematic Design - floor plan 1

We explore these initial ideas together – excited by some, rejecting others – working toward a second iteration, or a third, as more options arise and additional factors come in to play.

Through this collaboration, we will reach an understanding of the overall scale of the project, the size and relationship of its parts, the general look and feel of the structure, where it sits in the site, and how it changes the site. Working with a qualified builder – if you have one in mind at this point – these drawings can be used to develop an initial project cost estimate.

Maclaren Schematic Design - sketch elevation

Maclaren Design Development - site planFrom the hand-drawn sketches we move to hard-lined drawings that test and develop the ideas proposed in the schematic design stage.

Maclaren Design Development - cottage ground floorLooking to strengthen and enrich our initial design ideas, we extend the patterns and materials proposed, filtering them through the ideas and priorities gathered in our pre-design work.

From here we produce a set of drawings (plans, elevations, sections, possibly 3-dimensional views) that show the spatial characteristics and components of the project. These drawings can be used to begin the approvals process and to further develop the project budget.Maclaren Design Development - cottage ground floor AB

This is when we must answer all the questions about how the design will be built.

Our drawings codify how the building is made and how it goes together. This includes incorporating key construction information, such as:

  • Full dimensions
  • Footing and foundation types
  • Floor, wall and roof assemblies
  • Structural information
  • Window and door schedules

We coordinate our work with that of several consultants, including structural, mechanical, landscape and interior design professionals. We may also recommend and source products and materials.Maclaren Architect Inc - Working Drawings - partial floor plan - inverted

We then assemble the package of drawings and calculations required to obtain a building permit. Together with a specification of finishes and equipment, these drawings can be used to provide detailed budget estimates.

Once construction is underway, our involvement ranges from occasional site visits that keep us apprised of progress, to regularly scheduled visits and construction cost reviews. We determine the frequency of our visits based on your knowledge or comfort with the builder’s services or monitoring procedures.Maclaren Architect Inc - Construction - Truss Shop Drawing 1

If an issue does arise, we respond quickly to address any question from the site. And we are often involved I reviewing “shop” drawings, detailing elements of the building including windows and doors, timber frames, roof trusses, floor systems, etc.