Text description provided by the architects. Our clients expressed the desire to share the beauty of this north shore Minnesota site with extended family and friends. Hence a guesthouse on a granite cliff overlooking Lake Superior.
Existing foundations for a previous garage were used to locate the guesthouse such that it was within a short distance of the original cabin but both structures maintained unobstructed views. Additionally, the removal of a defunct wind generator had left a substantial exposed triangular concrete plinth providing the base for an outdoor masonry chimney and seating area cliff-side. Utilizing these foundations rather than employing typical excavation left the site as undisturbed as possible and the new chimney at the guest cabin references the shape of the existing plinth.
At the guest cabin each of the levels has open gathering space as well as privacy for sleeping and bathing functions. The grade level accommodates the kitchen/living/dining room along with a bedroom, bath and mechanical room. The upper level consists of a gathering/game room, master bedroom, bath and sauna. This extends to the loft level with the paved roof as a gathering space. The sauna experience is enhanced as one moves from the steam room to the roof terrace. The loft’s high skylight not only allows contemplation of the night sky but also creates effective stack ventilation in the summer, cooling the cabin.
Multiple levels create vantage points allowing guests to experience the dramatic site from different elevations and directions and under changing light conditions. Full-height windows ensure that the “ground” outside feels connected to the interior. The main level windows seem to rest on the exterior decks, the upper level windows rest on the green roof terrace, and the loft level’s fully-glazed door opening onto the roof terrace.
All materials were selected to age with dignity. The smoothness of the maintenance-free black exterior cladding contrasts with the whitewashed masonry texture and naturally-aging wood surfaces. The consistency of minimal-maintenance materi- als continues on the interior with fir and birch surfaces. In addition to the visual warmth, the cabin is designed for superior thermal comfort with minimal energy use through the use of super-insulated walls, triple-glazed high performance windows and thermal-bridge-free insulation details for the floors above the existing foundation. The new garage is designed to act as structure and armature for future solar panels.