Lake houses demand attention. As rural residences that embrace nature, these projects take cues from their surrounding environment while standing in contrast to it. Throughout North America, lake houses have largely been conceived as traditional cabins and vernacular structures. Today, contemporary designs balance new aesthetic relationships with novel material assemblies. As secluded and private abodes, modern lake houses explore themes of transparency and relaxation. Framing the landscape, these houses celebrate the outdoors.
Taking another plunge into lake house designs, the following collection expands upon our original article by focusing on timber lake houses. Built with faceted and rectilinear forms alike, the projects represent investigations into cladding, orientation and spatial sequence. Programmatically, the lake houses blur the boundary between living areas and outdoor space. Combined, they ground a deeper investigation into the nature of rural dwelling across North America.
Sited on Lake Minnetonka, this project features two interlocking volumes clad in both clear and dark cedar. Pure geometric forms were used to shape interior and exterior experiences, while a long volume of shared family spaces frames views to the lake.
Controlling visibility while managing privacy, Gobbler’s Mountain House was designed to frame views of Table Rock Lake. Arranged on a steeply sloped site, two programmatic bars are connected with an open stair. Inspired by the thin, metal roofs of nearby boat docks, the residence is capped with a slender gabled roof on delicate steel trusses.
Salmela’s Hall House reimagines a home constructed in Duluth during the 1880s. Made with outdoor spaces that are oriented to views of Lake Superior, the project explores modernist values of openness, light and landscape.
A weekend retreat on Table Rock Lake, Postcard House has views on three sides. Elevated on columns, the residence takes inspiration from vintage Polaroid Cameras, where the building frames scenic settings from every angle — creating “postcards.” Pre-finished metal panels, conventional wood frame construction and stained cedar siding combine to articulate the simple, clean design.
Located next to a private lake in a remote, wooded location, this cottage was designed to replace a decaying, family-owned structure on the site. The home was created using dark, prefabricated cross-laminated timber that forms the project’s outer shell. The new cottage features an open spatial arrangement while using the former building’s original dimensions and orientation to the lake.
The Lake Joseph Boathouse carefully responds to stringent zoning and guidelines. Formally, the design includes a carved-out pitched roof, rectangular dormers, and a wrapped material envelope that rethinks the generic Muskoka boathouse typology.
Designed as a contemporary and modern cottage, Clear Lake House was created with a tent-like envelope that encompasses the interior and exterior program. Advocating an intimate scale within its forested site, the house takes advantage of the sloped site and views to the nearby lake. Three different programmatic volumes were crafted around privacy, views and separation.
Overlooking a remote Canadian lake above bedrock, this lake house includes a “kiss line” between two prefabricated modules. Programmatically, the project includes living quarters, a walled vegetable garden, dock house and outdoor deck space.
Sited on a plateau in the heart of the Laurentian forest, La Chasse-Galerie was made as a refined slender volume with open circulation areas. A large black ribbon frames the topography while spaces transform in accordance with the seasons.
Designed as a series of extrusions that project from a shared retaining wall, this lakeside residence features multiple spatial “leaks” oriented to specific views. Spaces are defined by materiality, from stacked plywood to both hot-rolled and rusted steel.