A Dramatic Cantilevered Roof Creates a Spacious Terrace Overlooking Lake Michigan

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By Anna Jones / Published by Dwell
Set atop a woodland ridge with views of Lake Michigan, this charred, timber-wrapped home boasts warm interiors and a functional scheme that balances public and private spaces.

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.

A Dramatic Cantilevered Roof Creates a Spacious Terrace Overlooking Lake Michigan - Photo 1 of 11 - The interior living spaces are directly accessible to the exterior terrace. 

The interior living spaces are directly accessible to the exterior terrace. 

A Dramatic Cantilevered Roof Creates a Spacious Terrace Overlooking Lake Michigan - Photo 2 of 11 -
A Dramatic Cantilevered Roof Creates a Spacious Terrace Overlooking Lake Michigan - Photo 3 of 11 -


A Dramatic Cantilevered Roof Creates a Spacious Terrace Overlooking Lake Michigan - Photo 4 of 11 - The two sleeping quarters benefit from more solid facade than glass to provide adequate privacy. 

The two sleeping quarters benefit from more solid facade than glass to provide adequate privacy. 

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.

A Dramatic Cantilevered Roof Creates a Spacious Terrace Overlooking Lake Michigan - Photo 5 of 11 - Large sliding glass doors create seamless indoor/outdoor living.

Large sliding glass doors create seamless indoor/outdoor living.

A Dramatic Cantilevered Roof Creates a Spacious Terrace Overlooking Lake Michigan - Photo 6 of 11 -
A Dramatic Cantilevered Roof Creates a Spacious Terrace Overlooking Lake Michigan - Photo 7 of 11 - The dining space, with glass on one end, connects the bedroom with the main living spaces. 

The dining space, with glass on one end, connects the bedroom with the main living spaces. 

A Dramatic Cantilevered Roof Creates a Spacious Terrace Overlooking Lake Michigan - Photo 8 of 11 -
A Dramatic Cantilevered Roof Creates a Spacious Terrace Overlooking Lake Michigan - Photo 9 of 11 - The master suite has a large corner window that creates a private, interior terrace for enjoying the natural landscape. 

The master suite has a large corner window that creates a private, interior terrace for enjoying the natural landscape. 

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.

A Dramatic Cantilevered Roof Creates a Spacious Terrace Overlooking Lake Michigan - Photo 10 of 11 - The dramatic cantilever provides shade and protection, while leaving views to the lake plentiful. 

The dramatic cantilever provides shade and protection, while leaving views to the lake plentiful. 

A Dramatic Cantilevered Roof Creates a Spacious Terrace Overlooking Lake Michigan - Photo 11 of 11 - The exterior terrace is complete with an integral fireplace. 

The exterior terrace is complete with an integral fireplace.