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Michigan Lake House

At One with Nature

Desai Chia Architecture | Environment Architects

Michigan Lake House
By Francesco Pagliari -

Resting in a grassy bluff facing Lake Michigan, the residence looks out over both lake and the surrounding woods. Immersed in this luminous natural setting, the architectural program is twofold: to blend with the particular natural landscape but at the same time to enhance our appreciation of its natural beauty. The house fans out into three functional structures, each clearly a unit unto itself yet nonetheless part of a coherent whole. The three structures develop out of a semi-basement holding the garage, service spaces and a communal area. The first structure contains a large, airy living zone with wide sweeping vistas. A second, more reserved, volume houses the master bedroom whose glazed north corner provides views over lake and woodland. The third volume is occupied by three more bedrooms. A breezeway space joining the three arms is both a connecting and functional area. A long light-colored wooden table denotes its function as a convivial dining area, a feature enhanced by the warm wood flooring and wall linings. It also serves as a passageway, not only to the various parts of the house but also to and from the outside, a go-between hinge area opening out on both sides, towards the lake and the grassy slope on the south-east side where a gently sloping path paved with a series of different-length, irregularly laid stones climbs languidly up to the house. The program is all about achieving a constructive correlation between the natural and the artificial. Both architectural form and the materials used to realize it create a built entity that becomes part of the wider natural setting but at the same time is an observation post onto the outside world. This is especially the case for the day zone with its long stretches of full-height sliding transparent glazed openings - subtle, almost impalpable, boundaries between in- and outdoors. Similarly, the nearby kitchen is designed along the same lines. In contrast, the high horizontal band of the roofscape with...

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