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2018 MCHAP

Michigan Lake House

Desai Chia Architecture with Environment Architects

Northport, MI, USA

April 2016


Katherine Chia / Desai Chia Architecture Arjun Desai / Desai Chia Architecture Ray Kendra / Environment Architects


Steven Steimel, P.E. / Apex Engineering & Management (Structural Engineer) Larry Monigold, P.E. / Bayshore Engineering (Mechanical Engineer) Scott Jozwiak / Jozwiak Consulting Engineers (Civil Engineer) Christine Sciulli / Christine Sciulli Light + Design (Lighting Consultant) Tim Kirby / Surface Design, Inc. (Landscape Architect) Gary Cheadle / Woodbine Custon Furniture & Cabinetry (Custom Furniture Fabrication)


Michael Collins


Paul Warchol


Immersed in a luminous natural setting, the architectural program of this residence is twofold: to establish a dialogue with the lakefront landscape while at the same time to enhance communication and collaboration within a multi-generational family. We realized that thoughtful program adjacencies, fluid circulation, and long axial sightlines would encourage family members to communicate and engage in shared activities like cooking, dining, and conversation. We intentionally blurred the boundaries between indoor and outdoor spaces to enhance one's experience of the surrounding landscape. Strategically placed openings in the glass facade channel prevailing winds through the house to eliminate the need for air-conditioning. The project actively celebrates environmental stewardship. Due to the infestation of the Emerald Ash Borer Beetle in Michigan, we reclaimed over one hundred infested ash trees from the site to be extensively used in the design of the new home. Storm water run-off over a century had exacerbated erosion of the site's 200' high bluff, so we integrated the new home's roof form as part of a storm water management strategy to capture and divert rain water away from the fragile precipice. The Michigan Lake House presents a unique opportunity to rethink how to maximize simple materials and their formal expression. We aspired to a minimalist, vernacular aesthetic imbued with nuanced and expressive textures, details, and light. Above all, the Michigan Lake House is a beautiful and inspiring environment – a place that encourages a multi-generational family to relax, recharge, and re-engage with each other.


Perched on a woodland bluff overlooking Lake Michigan, this 4,800 square foot home is an assemblage of three offset structures that play off each other. Each volume is clearly a unit unto itself yet nonetheless part of a coherent whole– the ‘gathering’ structure contains the living room, kitchen and a covered ‘vista’ seating terrace; the two ‘sleeping’ structures house the master bedroom suite and three children’s bedrooms. A dining area breezeway connects all three structures. The roofscape has gentle undulations that follow the movement of the natural terrain and make a playful reference to the vernacular architecture of nearby fishing villages. The resulting rhythm of exposed wood beams provides layers of asymmetrical vaults throughout the interiors. At the southern end of the house, a 20 foot cantilevered roof extends over the ‘vista’ terrace, providing a protected, unobstructed view of Lake Michigan and the surrounding woodlands.


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