Unbuilt Merit Award: Burt Lake House

Unbuilt Merit Award: Burt Lake House

Architect: VINES architecture (visit website)

Location: Burt Lake, MI
100 Word Description: This Northern Michigan lake house was designed for a family of 3 as weekend retreat.  Located on a sloping, wooded site on Burt Lake, the cabin is organized on three levels in response to the sectional site and to minimize the building’s footprint. The program is accomodated in roughly equal parts interior and exterior space, with a significant covered area on two levels that is protected by the larger living spaces on the 3rd.   Using only local materials, the interior is lined with birch plywood and stone and the exterior is clad with a silvered, cedar slat rain screen system.
Architect’s Statement: The client, a public policy consultant in environmental issues energy use, and a civil/environmental engineer wanted a low maintenance, energy conscious retreat that was small, but able to accommodate extended family when needed.  The site is a sloping, wooded area located on the north shore of Burt Lake.  The cabin is organized on three levels to minimize the footprint and to encourage outdoor living and minimal energy use. The ground level is a simple space that contains a small kitchenette, bathroom, and a series of built-in butler bunk beds for kids. The space opens onto a large, partially covered deck with a long, outdoor kitchen and fire pit, which serves as an outdoor living room for the cabin.  The intermediate level, which is connected to the crushed stone parking area by a bridge, contains only a screened porch and large stone fireplace. Located on the third level, the main living space is treated as a large open volume and contains a bedroom, bath, kitchen, built-in shelves for a library, and an open living/dining area.  The roof of the cabin is shaped to open to the elevated views of the lake to the south and to collect rainwater in a large cistern at the rear. The south elevation is marked by a covered deck defined within the main volume of the house, which also serves to shade the living areas from the summer sun. All the windows are designed with operable panels that allow the cabin to be fully enclosed when not in use.
Type of Construction: The project is to be constructed of wood framing, with shop fabricated steel trusses. The interior is lined only with birch (a predominant tree species of northern Michigan) plywood and local stone, while the exterior is clad with a silvered red cedar slat rain screen system. The structural elements of the house on the exterior are wrapped in weathering steel.  The palette references the economical and vernacular roots of northern Michigan in the timber and iron ore industries.
Photography:  VINES architecture