The client's goal for this retreat was to create a beautiful series of structures and spaces to sustain the environment and family over the long term where relatives and friends will visit, stay and return again and again and the land will be cared for. The 16 acre site is three miles from the Sleeping Bear dunes on Lake Michigan in the United States.
Four black outbuildings define the auto court with a walkway passing through the outbuildings to the primary east access of the house. A parallel west walkway leads past a chimney terrace down to the lake. Visible beyond this path is a black pavilion and a white sod roofed sauna at the edge of the beech forest. The house is synchronous with the land, stepping down the hill on three levels following the slope.
Each structure, akin to farmsteads, has a significant building logic and its own identity. The black simple framed outbuildings at the entry court show their utilitarian purpose and direct the flow of people away from the vehicular functions. In contrast, the house has massive white masonry end walls which create book ends and lend a sense of importance to the living space. The apparent continuity of the structural elements read from the exterior to the interior in a regular rhythm. The masonry from the house extends to the fireplace chimney terrace as well the double wall sauna with its sod roof. The bocce ball pavilion beyond the sauna reflects the owners' interest in sculpture.
All these elements, seemingly of unique juxtaposed opposites, form a convergence of spaces, connections and activities, such as field walks, swimming in the lake, sauna, warm fire at the terrace chimney or a game of bocce ball. All regularly enjoyed by the clients and family members. All of these elements along with the forest and lake make for an ever-changing retreat which can be sustained over a long time for the environment and the family