Architect: Johnsen Schmaling Architects
Contractor: Burg Construction
This contemporary and compact home on a small lake in suburban Milwaukee was designed for a fiber artist and her young family. Nestled among existing houses, it was built on a narrow sliver of land that had been considered unsuitable for new construction because of its limited size and zoning restrictions. The main components of the new home are consolidated in a simple two-story wood cube that rests on a stepped brick podium carved into the site’s existing slope. Exterior materials are limited to locally sourced wood and brick. The main body of the house is clad in horizontal cedar, complemented by stained and painted vertical boards between the windows. Approaching the house from the street, a courtyard path leads to a transparent front door that frames an unencumbered view of the lake beyond. Inside, strategically placed floor-to-ceiling windows alternate with solid walls to highlight views and provide privacy. Rooms are grouped along the perimeter of a two-story living hall. The building envelope yields extraordinary insulation values. The home’s green roofs minimize stormwater runoff, with any excess collected in an on-site raingarden.
Jury Comment: “This project was beautifully executed. The selection of materials and the overall design concept are very thoughtful and restrained. The materials work with each other impeccably. In terms of scale, this is a relatively modest house, but it doesn’t feel like a modest house. Virtually every room feels like it is on the lake and in the trees. The architect took full advantage of this beautiful site.”
Photos: John J. Macaulay