Project: Chain O’ Lakes Tree House
Architects: Bruns Architecture
Structural engineering: Core 4 Engineering
Builder: Kubisiak Construction
Location: Waupaca, Wisconsin, United States
Photo Credits: Tricia Shay Photography
Text by Bruns Architecture
Chain O’ Lakes Tree House is nestled into the mature landscape of an existing lakefront site. Carefully placed amongst the trees with framed views of the lake, this strong, simple structure blurs interior and exterior lines to enhance connections between a family and nature.
Located on the shores of the proglacial Chain O’Lakes in Waupaca, Wis., this weekend and vacation home was in need of reinvention. The longtime owners decided to take the opportunity to breathe new life into the property. The design objective was to introduce a modern structure to better suit their lifestyle and create a shelter within the dense forested shore.
Zoning restrictions prohibited changes to the original footprint on the lakeside of the home. This original building outline was complemented with an interlocking componenton the streetside where the setbacks aremore relaxed. The design uses the power of line and material to define space, direct views and create connections that provide a subtle rhythm to the living experience.
The interior plan took shape by providing lake views from each bedroom. This visual connection to the crystal clear water below was enhanced by outdoor living areas serving as extensions of the voluminous interior gathering spaces.
The once ubiquitous lake home now makes a statement of simplicity and strength on the site with a warm and welcoming appeal. From the street, the structure is an approachable modern home with minimal windows to maintain privacy.The lakeside elevation takes advantage of the steep topography of the site with expansive window walls and a walkout lower level. Each level climbs higher amidst the tree canopy to sit within the open space like a carefully placed tree house.
The simple box shapes are cladin a rich, cognac-huedwood and punctuated with glazing and dark cement panels. The contrasting materials frame views inside and out. The roof and ceiling planes rest on the building forms as continuous warm cedar surfaces pass inside and out.
The collection of natural materials, including warm woods, natural stone, black metaland concrete, achieves a clean, authentic palette. The dark line of steel beams, metal window frames and trellis framework reinforce sightlines to the lake views beyond.