Michigan Lake House

CompanyDesai Chia Architecture PC
Lead DesignerDesai Chia Architecture with Environment Architects
Design TeamArjun Desai Katherine Chia Huy Dao Ray Kendra, Environment Architects
PrizeGold in Architectural Design / Residential Architecture

This 4,800 square foot home is perched on a woodland bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. We designed the home as three offset structures— the ‘gathering’ structure contains the living room, kitchen and a covered 'vista' seating terrace; the two 'sleeping' structures house the master bedroom suite and three children's bedrooms. A dining area breezeway connects all three structures. The roofscape has gentle undulations that follow the movement of the local terrain and make a playful reference to the local vernacular architecture. The resulting rhythm of exposed wood beams provides layers of asymmetrical vaults throughout the interiors while simultaneously expressing the structural integrity of the house. At the southern end of the house, a 20 foot cantilevered roof extends over the 'vista' terrace, providing a vast and protected, unobstructed view of Lake Michigan and the surrounding woodlands. The exterior of the house is clad in ‘shou sugi ban’ cypress—the shou sugi ban process is a traditional Japanese method of charring wood so it becomes rot resistant and bug resistant. The charred texture and the modulation of deep facade members enhances the shadows across the facade as the sun rises and sets. We reclaimed dying ash trees from the site and milled them down to be used as the interior cabinetry, flooring, ceiling panels, and trim work throughout the house. We also incorporated the ash wood in a series of custom furniture pieces including a dining table, coffee tables, and a bed for the master bedroom. The interiors of the house have a direct connection to the indigenous landscape that was once thriving with old growth ash. Landscape design strategies were closely tied to the design of the house. A tight palette of native vegetation highlights views while also managing storm water run-off. Locally- sourced stone creates outdoor seating areas, paths and stairways.