It’s a sign that I have had too much winter when I start reminiscing about summer time and nostalgically remembering my trip to the lakeside enclave in the Northwoods just below Lake Superior.

Architect Hank Louis (Gigaplex, Park City) designed this summer home at water’s edge with the concept of a boathouse. On the drive side, it climbs the site obscured partially by trees. The principle orientation is to the lake, and breaks in the foundational supports allow transparency to look from this elevation view through to the lake.

The shot is styled with cars: a yellow VW Thing in the open-ended carport, and a Red Citroën 2CV (Deux Chevaux) waiting out front. Additionally, metal goats graze the hillside. I have mentioned before how much I enjoy styling shots with cars, and I have to add that metal animals make for great styling. I love how they don’t move.

Many know Hank Louis from his role of architecture professor at the U of U and founder and initial director of the Design-Build Bluff program. There he introduced appreciation for using found and donated materials and rethinking how they might best serve the design, and he challenged students to build energy conscious homes to withstand the climate extremes of the Navajo desert.

entry, chipped opening, copper walls, pylons from Great Salt Lake, stairs, Hank Louis

The entry through a chipped opening in the board-formed concrete creates the experience of beginning an exploration. The low ceiling opens, the copper walls reflect warm light and shadows, and the pylons salvaged from Great Salt Lake form the stairs that wind up to “who knows where?” I’ve never created a folder of favorite photos, but if I did, this is a contender.

repurposed notched European jewelers' table, bar seating, boathouse inspiration, wood-former concrete fireplace, Hank Louis

Upstairs, the angled beams draw the eye to views of the lake and its forested perimeter. An interesting repurposed notched European jewelers’ table provides bar seating and separates the kitchen from the main living. The ‘T” support looked to me like a nautical reference that reinforces the boathouse inspiration. The massive wood-formed concrete fireplace unit holds heat, an important consideration for enjoying time in the home in a location where the weather can never be taken for granted. The stairs to the right lead to the master.

master bedroom, natural stone and wood, glass balcony, Hank Louis

The feeling of being in a secluded tree house continues in the master with natural stone and wood tying it to its wooded lakeside setting. With the glass balcony doors open, you can hear the calls of the loons from the lake.

spherical book table, Hank Louis

This detail shows the attention given to managing temperature and airflow with the fireplace mass and top and bottom opening windows. The spherical book table overflowing with volumes seemed like a perfect image for those who measure the quality of their vacation by number of books read.

hallway, detailed woodwork, Hank Louis

Again with the efficiency and detailed woodwork in the hallway, I thought of boats.

playroom, low windows, concrete wall, Hank Louis

The playroom provides low windows to view the wildlife outside. The bedroom is opposite the concrete wall with a window opening to the playroom.

architectural stairs, Hank Louis
steel culvert pipe stairway, Hank Louis

Hank Louis has an eye for practical farm or industrial materials that he can use in his designs. I have photographed projects built with metal silos and shipping containers plus the reused and repurposed materials from Design-Build Bluff. Here he takes a steel culvert pipe and creates a stairway from the balcony of the master to the rear of the home. The effect is sculptural and eye-catching, and as stairs, it really functions well. I was carrying equipment and also deal with an injury, and I had absolutely no problem going up and down and loved having a handrail on each side.

As far as the photos, I was there when the trees were leafed out, which is a time appropriate for when the home is intended to be enjoyed. Hank Louis conserved the trees on site and designed the home to fit within them. This makes it difficult to fully capture the architectural form of the home. Similarly for the interiors, the home serpentines through the trees, long and extended, with relatively small rooms. The only common open space is the kitchen/living area. To really see the home requires far more images than I have room. You have to take my word for it: the entry invites you to explore and the journey doesn’t let you down.

See more of Scot Zimmerman’s work here.

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