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Located on a 120-acre site on a small lake in northeastern Wisconsin, Woodmancote Farm is a private and professional retreat for a Minneapolis family. The clients are members of a family whose lumber mill has been the dominant business in the region for generations. The process inherent in a lumber mill, of raw materials being transformed into various refined end-products, formed the conceptual basis for the formal moves and material choices within the project. Throughout the project, changes in materiality define the progression from the natural environment to the refined interior spaces.
Sited on a peninsula on the lake and nestled within the trees, the single-storey main house and guest house share a center court. The arrangement of the various programmatic elements is derived from the axial view across the lake to the family lumber mill. Approaching the main house from the north, one is presented with a long bar of weathered cedar pierced by a single opening. This aperture is on axis with the smoke stack of the lumber mill across the lake, and serves as the formal entrance to the living space.
Wood, in various species and finishes, is highlighted as the primary finish material in the house. Wood flooring is used on the walls and ceiling in the main living and entertaining areas, creating a powerful horizontal space perpendicular to the visual axis. Axial stone elements pierce interior spaces saturated with wood, defining program, circulation and spatial experiences. In strategic locations, the weathered cedar siding on the exterior is pulled back to reveal the warm finished wood of the interior. A dialogue between exterior and interior, and raw material and polished end-product is created.
The living and entertaining space is divided programmatically with large “furniture” pieces, which, depending upon the space they help to define, are assigned varying functions, from entry closet to shelving to dining buffets and kitchen cabinets. These “furniture” pieces will be finished with a species of wood differing from that of the floor, creating a rhythmic counterpoint to the wood flooring.
As one moves through the project, changes in material, topography, prescribed and serendipitous views and the interplay of light and shadow create a dynamic living and entertaining space.