St. Germain, Wisconsin
Architect: Johnsen Schmaling Architects
Contractor: J&J Lee Construction Co. Inc.
This small, unassuming family retreat sits atop a steep bluff overlooking Alma Lake in northern Wisconsin. The cabin is organized as a series of three identically sized nearly opaque boxes separated by spatial voids. A continuous thin roof plane spans the entire length of the building. The “storage box” offers space for canoes, tools and logging equipment. The “service box” contains the cabin infrastructure, including entry, kitchen, bathroom, laundry and boiler room. The “sleeping box” houses two bunk rooms. The void between the storage and service boxes is unenclosed, framing views from the clearing toward the lake. The void between the service and sleeping boxes functions as the hearth room, with the center of the cabin anchored by a wood-burning stove. The wide lift-slide glass doors bracketing the hearth room allow for unobstructed views through the building from the outside and into the wooded landscape from within. The project utilizes a palette of regionally sourced materials. The boxes are clad with blackened pine planks. Varnished cedar accentuates the continuous horizontal reveal between the building boxes and the roof plane. With a durable polished dark-grey concrete floor, the interior walls and ceilings are clad in crisply detailed knotty pine.
AIA Wisconsin Design Awards: Honor Award
Jury Comment: “The cabin has an abstract and artful quality without sacrificing function. Careful material choice and detailing reinforce the effect. The rigor of the material palette and massing creates a profound retreat in the woods.”
Photos: John J. Macaulay