This summer house was conceived as a relationship of two distinct organizational strategies. An outer structure, providing the basic shelter, designed in a simple and clear manner. And an inner structure, providing the spatial containment, adapts more directly to the complexities of site context and residential living.
The owners are avid campers and camped on the property for several years before building a small cabin. They expressed a desire to construct an open, efficient and flexible lodging, and to provide a modest shelter from their mostly out-of-doors activities. In this camping spirit, the outer structure is analogous to a tent fly, permitting the inner "exposed" structure to provide a free circulation of air and distribution of light. A separate wing to the south houses the bathroom, laundry and mechanical functions.
The use of the house will be shared by members of an extended family and a unique requirement was for flexible accommodations. The sleeping loft, which measures twenty-four by eighteen feet, was designed to accommodate a variety of sleeping arrangements. The loft can be readily divided into smaller spaces by organizing easily moved wall panels and storage modules of varying quantities and orientation.
The site is located on the west shore of Lake Huron, about seven miles north of Au Gres, Michigan. The topography is relatively flat and slopes very gradually down to the water. Access to the house is from the west, by a drive which angularly traverses the site, offering changing glimpses of the house and lake/property juxtaposition. The house is oriented parallel to the shoreline, on a north-south major axis. The entry, which is located on an east-west minor axis, visually links the parking area with the dock.
All spaces directly face the lake to exploit the water views and to maximize the natural ventilation afforded by lake breezes. The sequencing of spaces, into a split level arrangement, considers the degrees of quietude, progressing upward from the kitchen and dining room, to the living room and then on to the sleeping loft. The kitchen-dining room-patio spaces can easily act together as one larger family space and can remain open, during inclement weather, under the shelter of the outer roof. A full-width bay window, in the living room, allows a panoramic view of the lake, while relatively small windows in the sleeping loft limit the intrusion of early morning sun. The concrete and concrete block structure, at the northwest corner, visually and physically moors the house and provides both a barrier to the parking area and a solid backdrop for the lake views.
The top of the inner structure is designed to accept easily changed solid and screened panels. There are sixteen panel locations, four above the living room and twelve above the sleeping loft. This "inner roof" is designed, in effect, to act as a large horizontal operable window, affording flexibility and significant natural ventilation and solar control.