Designed by New York firm Desai Chia Architecture, in collaboration with local Traverse City, Michigan, firm Environment Architects, the Michigan Lake House is a composition of three interconnected massings. The open living, kitchen, and dining spaces are contained in the main structure. Separated from the living spaces and connected via a dining area breezeway, two additional volumes contain the master suite and the children's quarters.
The house is built from reclaimed materials found on site. Clad in charred black wood, the exterior skin is created from a traditional technique called shou sugi ban, which treats the wood to become weather- and bug-resistant. The textured skin dramatizes the play of light and shadows as the sun moves across the home during the day.
The use of timber is continued inside. Cabinetry, flooring, ceiling panels, trim, and furniture were constructed from dying ash trees original to the site, adding warmth and natural elements to the living quarters.
Representing the surrounding natural landscape, the dramatic geometry of the roof plane undulates across the spaces, creating vaulted ceilings and a 20-foot terrace outside.
In addition to space, materials, and form, the designers were conscious of implementing positive stewardship of the land and thoughtfully incorporated sustainable systems into the design. Roof scuppers and native vegetation assist in managing storm water run-off, while geothermal heating as needed and natural ventilation from lakefront breezes provide passive cooling.
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