Situated on the edge of Lake Michigan, this property contains both dense woods and a bluff to the sandy shore. Our challenge was to create a new, energy-efficient, low-maintenance vacation home. The owners wished for a gathering place for their multi-generational family to escape their busy city lives.
The site approach and the architecture are integrated together through a central entry axis, where visitors are welcomed with a lush courtyard. Lake waters beckon through the sliding glass doors of the porch connector. Four cedar-clad cabins, two on each side of the axis, are peaked to reflect the surrounding Midwestern architecture. Flat, zinc-clad connector spaces link the cabins together, providing both separation and definition.
Each cabin offers a specific function: storage, guests, gathering, and a master suite. Large windows and glass doors maximize views to the lake and woods, allowing the home to “breathe the lake air.” Dramatic skylights bring in natural light that ebbs and flows throughout the space. The grand scale of the vaulted living space contrasts the more intimate porch and family room in the connectors. The separation of the multiple cabins fulfills the needs of the large family, while maintaining privacy. Durable materials and neutral finishes within the interior reduce maintenance while evoking the native beach landscape.
The Lake Michigan Beach Retreat is located to minimize impact to the natural site, being positioned primarily on an existing building footprint with minimal disturbance beyond the building envelope.
Using an axial layout, each cabin and connector has operational doors and windows on the lake-side and the woods-side, maximizing natural ventilation. Large openings, coupled with gracious skylights, maximize natural light. When required, LED lighting is provided. A high-efficiency heating and cooling system is zoned to allow each cabin to be individually controlled. Spray foam insulation and high performing windows and doors create a tight building envelope.
As the Lake Michigan Beach Retreat is located in a remote lakeside community, there is no feasible public transportation nearby. Two parking spaces exist for the owners’ use.
Low-flow plumbing fixtures conserve water. Storm water runoff is limited as the site is primarily sand, allowing water to permeate easily; gravel paths aid this effort. Natural and native landscaping blends with the site and requires little water.
Within the home, finishes are low VOC, including a custom wax finish on the floors throughout. Construction materials were recycled and existing fixtures were donated for reuse.