The restrained material palette, exposed structure and sense of craft in this home creates wonderful spaces to live while the sensitivity to massing and siting creates a powerful connection to the beautiful site.
— 2019 AIA Michigan Honor Award Jury
 

LOCATION
Charlevoix, MI

STATUS
Completed 2018

SQUARE FOOTAGE
3,949 SF

CONSTRUCTION TYPE
XXXXX

SPECIAL FEATURES
XXXXX

DESIGN TEAM
Daniel Kaven, Partner-in-Charge
Trevor William Lewis, Partner-in-Charge
Andrew Heathfield, Project Manager
Katy Krider, Interior Design
Max Taschek, Project Designer
Joel Dickson, Project Designer

CATEGORIES
Single-family Residential

AWARDS
2019 AIA Michigan Honor Award

PUBLICATION
Architect Magazine
“Camp MINOH”

Dezeen
“William Kaven designs sturdy house on Lake Michigan for bracing weather”

GRAY Magazine
“Modern Lodging”

 

Located near Charlevoix on the shores of Lake Michigan, Camp MINOH embodies the rugged ethos of Midwestern life. A legacy that includes French trappers, Ojibwa Indians, Chicago mobsters and Ernest Hemingway adds to the diverse heritage of the site. The house is nestled among the pine and birch trees, positioned to face the strong winter winds that head south across the lake from the Upper Peninsula and Canada. Designed as a refuge for extended family gatherings, the interior plays between solid and open spaces. The ground floor acts as the main gathering space, with a long linear connected floor plan. The second floor features a private den for film viewing, as well as a bunk room and two bedroom suites.

During the design process, the architects were tasked with creating a structure whose strength and scale matched that of the body of water that can be seen from every room in the house. The client expressed a desire for a rugged, low-maintenance home, a stipulation that informed the simple interior palette: exposed Doug Fir beams make up the ceiling while dark and rich tones of walnut and formal polished concrete floors anchor the space. The upper floor uses light-reflective oak accents, creating an intentional contrast to the harbored ground floor below. A cantilevered living section and framed views of the lake add to this concept of airiness, serving to connect the interior space with the dramatic exterior environment. The exterior of the home is comprised of concrete, charred wood, glass, and steel. Another design priority was to convey a distinct sense of tranquility, a challenge achieved by highlighting the year-round sunsets, favoring views of Beaver Island and ensuring the transparency of both levels on approach; from the road in, visitors can see clear through the house to the lake.

Sustainability and economy were also prioritized. Shou Sugi Ban, a Japanese technique used to extend the life of wood, was utilized to stand up to the extreme exposure to storms and UV light on the site. The charcoal-like material is not only aesthetically pleasing, but extremely long-lasting. Inexpensive forms were used for the exterior concrete, resulting in a beautifully textured finish.


 
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During the design process, I often reflected back on my first moment of facing the lake and its power. The home we would design needed to be equally as strong and consistent as the massive body of water that would be seen from every room in the structure.
— Daniel Kaven, Partner
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SITE

Camp MINOH is located along Meanderline Road just a few miles from downtown Charlevoix. Originally estimated at just over one acre, due to receding lake levels the acreage now easily crests two. The lake frontage faces west-northwest with year-round sunsets and on clear days, permits views of Beaver Island. The back third of the lot, which sits along Meanderline, is heavily wooded with Jack Pines, Beech and Elm trees. The remaining two-thirds consists of sand, stone and various grasses. Topographically speaking, the area rises slightly midway through the trees before descending into a small gully. From here, the land rises again slightly and proceeds to flatten over the next one hundred yards out to the water.

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SI QUAERIS PENINSULAM AMOENAM CIRCUMSPICE.

(If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.)

—Michigan State Motto

 
 
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It was enjoyable to build something in a location at the end of America.
— Daniel Kaven, Partner
It’s a great place to laze around and swim and fish when you want to. And the best place in the world to do nothing. It is beautiful country … and nobody knows about it but us.
— Ernest Hemingway in a letter to a friend
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CONTEXT

Lake Surface Area: 22,400 sq miles
Shoreline Length: 1,400 miles
Average Depth: 279 ft
Maximum Depth: 923 ft

Lake Michigan is the only one of the five Great Lakes to be located completely within U.S. territory. The Great Lakes, sometimes referred to as the ‘North Coast’ or ‘Third Coast’, account for nearly 21% of the earth’s freshwater. The word ‘Michigan’ is believed to come from the Ojibwa word mishigami meaning ‘great water’. It is the largest lake in the world contained entirely within one country, the fifth largest lake by surface area, and seventh largest by volume. The western shores of Lake Michigan are often rocky with prevailing winds from the west. Vast stretches of soft sand beaches and dunes line the eastern shores. The sand is known as “singing sands” due to the squeaking sound caused underfoot by the high quartz content. The northeastern shores near Charlevoix are sculpted by large bays and dotted with inland lakes.

Chicago is situated at the southernmost portion of Lake Michigan. Theoretically, the site can be reached by boat from Chicago, but the extreme weather conditions prevent commercial routes. Chicago maintains a strong cultural connection to Charlevoix, as many residents of the Windy City maintain summer and winter getaways “up North.”

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