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Northwoods House + enlarge

Photographer: Tim Bies

Northwoods House

  • PROJECT ROLES
  • Jim Olson, Design Principal
  • LOCATION & YEAR
  • Iron River, MI, 2010

Project Details

This home in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula frames and emphasizes its natural context, making nature its focus. The design reacts to the surrounding environment, dissolving inside/outside boundaries and creating composed views into the woods and towards the water. Exterior materials will weather over time to match the surroundings, while colors in the interior are inspired by the landscape – for example, an interior wood stain matches the color of the bark of nearby trees.

The house moves in an orderly way in two directions. An East-West axis creates a path from the front door to a lake view, while floor to ceiling windows along a North-South axis frame the surrounding garden and forest. A sculptural staircase anchors the intersection of the two main axes. Throughout the interior, ceiling heights and room volumes vary, becoming more spacious in the rooms that open toward views. Roof extensions and light shelves create clear definition between vertical spaces. The orderly axis breaks down outside the house, as an asymmetrical cantilevered roof directs your gaze to the woods and lake views to the west.