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Lake Michigan Beach Cottage

Ramsey Jones Architects

Project Name

Lake Michigan Beach Cottage


Margaret Martin


  • General Contractor: Margaret Martin

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Project Description


Situated on the Lake Michigan shore at lake level, this new beach cottage is designed to take full advantage of its unique, but challenging, site. Floodplain constraints and wetland considerations limited options, resulting in decision to demolish an existing “beach shack” and construct a narrow cottage on a new building pad pushed tight to the eastern setback. Arriving via an arcing boardwalk, the central opening through the structure creates a framed view of the immense lake beyond. Wide sliding glass panels on each side of the main living space open to the yards front and back. The narrow width of the cottage and ample openings provide natural daylighting and easy cross ventilation. Clerestory windows wash the Douglas fir ceiling deck in a warm ambient glow of reflected sunlight. The covered central opening separates the main cottage from the screened bunkhouse, offering a quiet getaway for guests as well as a special setting for large dinners at the harvest table. The wooden deck and stone patios expand the exterior space for sunning, lounging or enjoying a sunrise over Lake Michigan, with a sandy beach only 100 feet away. The sound of crashing waves, light reflected off the water onto the ceiling through the clerestory windows and an afternoon breeze passing gently through the massive openings on each side of the cottage all combine to create a truly unique sense of place.

Jury Comment: “This project optimizes the opportunity of its site. The structural clarity and simple massing of this house creates beautiful conditions of light and threshold.”
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