The Gun Lake Residence replaces a small, aging, existing house located on a narrow peninsula on Gun Lake, in west Michigan. The peninsula is neatly populated with century-old homes that quietly occupy this uncommon setting. The project site offers extraordinary views of the water in multiple directions and extends to the east with open space, bordering on an historic, 19th-century community ice house.
A primary project goal was to reimagine the relationship of the house to its surroundings while remaining sensitive to the communal context of the neighboring properties. The design seed of the new project included rotating the footprint of the existing house 90 degrees to open the long side of the home toward the lake, maximizing views and gaining optimal benefit of the linear site. Drawing inspiration from the traditional lake vernacular of the neighboring houses, the two principal roof forms of the new house reciprocate the setting -- the modern, clean lines of the upper gable roof upholds the clarity and tradition of the neighborhood, while the lower roof mimics the extension of the landscape and invites improvisational use. The horizontal flat roof allows use of the deck in all weather and cantilevers the most used public spaces into the landscape in a band of captured horizontal space. A wood-clad retaining wall refines a cut into the earth and harbors a transitional, outdoor room between the water and the basement.
At 2200 finished square feet, the conditioned building envelope is compact. And like the exterior, the interior form responds directly to its use. The upper floor is a monastic repetition of modest sleeping cells and bathrooms with unique directional views, combined with a grand central stair and master bedroom at each corner that captures myriad views of the water, over the trees, in all directions.
The main floor utilizes a core of small, functional spaces to shield the adjacent road, and forms a backdrop to the open interior spaces. Aided by the reaching, cedar-bellied roof, the living, dining, and kitchen spaces spill to the outdoors through an unusually porous exterior wall. Three sliding glass doors–including one at 20 feet wide–and a finished, surrounding ground plane cohere the landscape to the main living level.
Super-insulated wood-framed walls, triple-paned aluminum-clad wood windows, and a structurally insulated roof panels make-up the core of the building envelope, and additional exterior high-performance design features include geothermal heating/cooling and a green roof. Cementitious lap siding, concrete panels, hardwood decking, cedar soffits, and river rock comprise the exterior finish. In addition to cedar ceilings, interior finishes include porcelain ceramic tile, cork flooring, tight pile wool carpet, and neutral painted walls -- designed in quiet tones to highlight the most important interior ingredient: views outside.Photography: Bill Lindhout Photography