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Feldmann House

Salmela Architect

Woodland, United States

August 2021


David Salmela


Souliyahn Keobounpheng, Meyer Borgman Johnson, McNulty Homes, TVL Studio


Matt and Marni Feldmann


Corey Gaffer


Matt is a physicist, Marni is an eye surgeon, and their two children are active teenagers who participate in numerous competitive sports. The family previously lived in a significantly larger traditionally-styled home in the area but were turned off by the darkness of the deep interior spaces and the excessive amount of unused space. The indoor air quality suffered from the synthetic materials and finishes and an over-reliance on mechanical ventilation and air conditioning.
They wanted the new house to be modestly sized and no-nonsense. They wanted a home that could be easily cleaned and required little to no yearly maintenance. They required that the materials and finishes be all natural and non-toxic. They wanted to feel breezes through the house with the ability to flush out stale air easily. They also wanted to feel a constant connection to the outdoors, with open views to the landscape and ample daylight from multiple directions. Furthermore, they wanted multiple exterior patio spaces with unique microclimates to allow the family to spend time outdoors in a variety of weather.


Lake Minnetonka is a network of 23 interlocking lakes with dozens of bays and inlets, making it a popular destination for sailing and fishing. The suburban communities that ring the 14,500 acre lake are known for their good schools and high real estate values.
The City of Woodland sits on a peninsula at the eastern end of the lake. The landscape is semi-wooded with rolling hills and low lying wetlands. The city has no central wastewater management system, requiring private septic systems on each lot. The town was first developed at the turn of the century, and a handful of modestly sized house from that period remain. However, today the majority of the houses in the area have been replaced with much larger luxury homes ranging in size from 3,000-20,000sf., usually in an imitative historical style.
The landlocked parcel was a previously undeveloped portion of a larger site which was subdivided and sold by the neighbor. At the center of the site is an open plateau surround by several magnificent oak trees, with views of the lake in the distance.


The narrow profile of the house is extruded along an east-west axis, creating long expanses of northern and southern exposure. To the north, large windows look out toward the lake, bringing in cool even light throughout the day. To the south, a upper level screen porch doubles as a solar shading device. The taut horizontal cedar slats filter warm sunlight into the upper level. The cantilevering volume facilitates a passive heating strategy on the level below; blocking the high angle summer sun while allowing low angle winter sun to heat the black slate radiant floor. Rockwool insulation and triple pane glass facilitate an extremely effective passive solar strategy. At the center of the volume is a double-height living space with a masonry fireplace and chimney that extends 35ft vertically though the roof. Two large gabled skylights help reflect daylight down into the core of the home while simultaneously allowing hot air to flow upward, venting out of the operable skylights when needed. The skylights also act as a demonstration of the optics of daylight. One skylight faces east, drawing in warm morning light from the rising sun while the other faces west into the cold receeding night sky. This relationship is slowly inverted throughout the day with a uniform equilibrium achieved at noon.
On the ground level, a single stall attached garage and utility spaces occupy the west end of the floorplan, buffering the living spaces from both the frigid northwest winter winds and the hot afternoon summer sun. The kitchen and dining room occupying the east end, allowing in early morning sun and blocking late afternoon glare.
On the exterior, masonry chimneys define two terrace spaces: one in complete shade off of the north elevation and the other in complete sun off of the south.

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