House on Lake Okoboji

"It's all about the lake."

  • Type House,
  • Location West Lake Okoboji, Iowa
  • Status Built
  • Date 2007
  • Collaborators

    Min | Day

A series of spatial frames provide a focused and private experience of landscape. For a lake residence on a small lot in rural Iowa we designed a house as a series of spatial frames which offer a focused and private experience on a densely populated shore. The clients asked for a house that foregrounded the lake and the oak trees, setting it apart from the expanse of farmland beyond. The house acts as a 3-dimensional set of blinders, obscuring the neighbors while opening to the lake beyond. Passing through the house, one moves from areas of density to areas of a diaphanous quality, articulated through intensity of color, material, and texture as one moves from open to intimate spaces.

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The simple geometric masses of the home cantilever from a concrete base in order to preserve existing trees on the small lot.

Spatial Choreography
Volumetrically simple from the exterior, opaque and slatted vertical Ipe boards clad a stacked set of spatial tubes (the primary living spaces) that are open to the lake and woods views, but visually closed to neighbors on the sides. The house’s spatial tubes form around view axes running through the site, perceptually linking the lake through the forest to the fields beyond. These view-framing tubes are literal voids in the mass of the house bounded at their ends only by glass. Light and air also enters these rooms through operable windows set behind the slatted Ipe cladding. Dense service spaces fill the remaining volume. The first level is dominated by continuous subtly amorphous space that opens to the exterior in with lake views in several directions. This space bounds the primary living spaces while suggesting connections and extensions to the surrounding landscape, lake and sky.

Kitchen and view from interior light well above

Cat-scan sections: from road to lake

Color and Materiality
In contrast to the spatial tubes of the public areas, the smaller private spaces (bedrooms and bathrooms) exhibit a pronounced sense of interiority. As spaces become increasingly intimate, the intensity of surface material or color increases. Interior surfaces in these rooms are subsumed by color to the extent that each feels like a zone of pure, saturated color. Here, color becomes equivalent to the Lake that dominates the spatial tubes, providing an autonomous interiority in contrast to the site-oriented “tubes”. Color becomes an important tool of space making, an additional layer that can reinforce or contradict the other components of spatial geometry, intensifying the experience or adding complexity.

Color intensity increases with the level of intimacy of each space

Specialized Objects
In addition to the house and site, Min | Day designed or selected all furniture, fabrics, and finishes. Custom fabrics for many of the furniture selections distinguish the pieces while relating them to material and spatial strategies of the house. We designed and fabricated several feature tables as well as the cnc-milled Lake Cabinet for the master bedroom (see Objects) and Lake Tables. Reminiscent of classic lake boats, the Coffee Table and Dining Table are both made from solid planks White Oak, some of which was milled from a tree taken down during construction.

Lake Dining Table and Lake Coffee Table

Floor plans

Project Awards

2010 ACSA Faculty Design Award

2009 AIA Central States Region Honor Award

2008 AIA Nebraska Honor Award for new construction

2008 AIA Nebraska Honor Award for detail (Lake Cabinet)

Publications, “Iowan to See Great Architecture: 10 Projects from the Hawkeye State”, by Eric Baldwin

“Two Faces of the Same Firm,” Rural Modern by Russell Abraham, The Images Publishing Group Pty. Ltd., 2013

The Home, by Maya Ninova, Bulgaria, June, 2011

Design Bureau Magazine, “Living By the Lake”, July/August 2011

Robb Report / Exceptional Properties, January/February 2011

Bob, International Magazine of Space Design, #075, “Min | Day, Fogscape/Cloudscape, L Residence, Spirits Pavilion, House on Lake Okoboji” (30-page feature), ed. Lee Hamin, Korea, October 2010

Metropolitan Home Design 100: The Last Word on Modern Interiors, by Michael Lassel, Filipacchi Publishing, October 2010

Architectures À Vivre #56, “Au bord du lac” by Elisabeth Karolyi, September-October 2010

Kuca Stil, “Leto Bez Kraja”, by Jelena Kalicanin, Belgrade, Serbia November 2009

Architectural Record Magazine, Kitchen & Bath Portfolio, “White-washed Kitchen and color soaked bathrooms”, by Mae Ryan, September 2009

Metropolitan Home Magazine, “On the Waterfront (In Iowa)”, by Fred Bernstein, May 2009

Summa+ 98, “Experiencia Focalizada”, by Luis O’Grady, Dec. 2008

Photography By Paul Crosby
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