Harbor Country Cottage

Sited in the forested dunes that define Lake Michigan’s eastern shore this 2,200 square foot country house that is home to a family of four, joins a long line of Midwestern ancestors in celebrating life in the country.

What links it stylistically to its predecessors in other centuries is a certain formality of plan and comparison, an austerity of form rooted in function.  Simple in form but complex in meaning it uses the same familiar Midwestern architectural vocabulary: (the pyramidal gable, the classical hip, the cube stacked conventionally, clad in painted clapboard punctured by double hinges) to speak a language that has evolved through time which tells the age old story of the evolution of shelter.  But in so doing it crafts its own chapter by reassembling and reproportioning these common components to resolve its own contemporary identity.

The formal order of the facade finds kinship in the form of the plan as the spatial sequences unfold axially from the entry porch inward the first cross axial corridor that links kitchen and bath.  Glass doors terminate this axis physically at either end but visually it proceeds infinitely into the landscape.  The second cross axis is the literal and figurative center of the home — the place where the family gathers together to share the primordial warmth of the fire at one end and to break bread at the other.  The children’s quarters open directly off the procession into nature.  Encircling the fireplace, the stairway rises up to the parent’s quarters above — a place of study and repose for two professors. 

Each member of this modern family has their own private deck perched atop the gridded “reveal” that visually separates indoor house from outdoor house.  The screened in porch has become a separate structure stressing the importance of leisurely time spent in nature.  It is a transparent room that extends family life into the natural world.

The grid is also used to encase the stair tower, the second element that is adjunct to the clapboard clad cruciform core of the primary structure.  The grid also connotes measurement — a method of establishing order and scale and thus proportionally a certain tranquility that evolves from the resolution of spatial relationships in a harmonious fashion.  The form of this house is influenced by precedent but is not bound by it.  It refers to the past but takes its place in the present.