This Prefab Cabin Offers an Affordable Answer to Island Construction
With its inviting sandy shores and pristine forests, Wisconsin’s Madeline Island on Lake Superior has long been renowned as a summer destination. Yet high costs of construction due to its remote location have put off many from owning an island home.
Undeterred by challenges, a St. Paul family desirous of a weekend retreat tapped Minneapolis–based Lazor / Office and MSR Architects for a more affordable prefab solution.
Since the sliver-shaped island is only accessible by ferry, neither a crane nor concrete construction could be used on the project due to the prohibitively expensive costs.
Instead of relying on traditional building methods, the architects worked with Mast Construction to prefabricate two modules, the dimensions of which were determined by the size of the ferry.
The use of elevated posts minimized foundation concrete and bottle jacks negated the need for a crane. The heating, plumbing, and electrical supply were pre-installed to minimize labor on the island, along with elements of the kitchen and bathroom.
Besides construction, the island also played a heavy role in the design of the 1,603-square-foot cabin—named the Week’nder—which draws direct inspiration from the property’s wooded landscape near a meadow.
A short set of stairs leads up to the great room—the heart of the home that completely opens up to the outdoors through glazed, floor-to-ceiling Marvin windows.
The master suite occupies the west part of the home, as does the kitchen and a screen porch that opens up to an outdoor deck. Two additional bedrooms and the laundry room are placed on the east side.
"With large openings on all four sides and two long interior walls running north to south, the different, shifting qualities of diurnal daylight over the course of the day define the experience of living in the Week’nder," explains Lazor Office.
"We wanted one to be sensitized to the natural world over the course of a multi-day stay, just as one is when they’re camping, and let that set the tone and cadence of waking up to the sun rise, seeking shade mid-day, shifting to cocktails and sharing food as the western sun spreads it’s colors, and finally, tucking into bed as darkness falls," the firm continues.
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Architect of Record: Lazor / Office and MSR Architects
Builder: Mast Construction / Brian Mast
Structural Engineer: Stroh Engineering / Bernie Stroh
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