The elements of this single-purpose building are compelling and simple: a rusted steel box floating above a half-buried concrete box, the intervening space filled with a backlit sliver of translucent glazing. Envisioned as an inspiring practice space and recording studio for a guitarist/composer, the building draws its own inspiration from the abandoned farm implements that dot the surrounding woods. The upper level’s thick walls and sound-insulating glazing buffer stray noises, while its open ends and recessed porch foster a connection with nature. The lower level—cast concrete with a green roof—provides secure equipment storage. “It feels like an artifact in the woods,” observed one judge. “It’s so severe and such an object in the landscape, but the materiality of it blends in.”

Entrant/Architect: Johnsen Schmaling Architects, Milwaukee; Builder: Vintage Custom Homes, Mukwonago, Wis.; Living space: 315 square feet; Site: 1.55 acres; Construction cost: $207 per square foot; Photographer: John J. Macaulay.

Resources: Doors: Archispec,;Exterior siding: Cor-Ten,;HVAC equipment: Mitsubishi,;Insulation and roofing: Johns Manville,;Lighting fixtures: Bega,, Juno,;Paints/stains/wall finishes: Benjamin Moore,