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St. Joseph Beach House

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A cluster of vernacular forms clad in soft, weathering materials.

St. Joseph Beach Residence is a new single-family home for a young family of four, nestled into expansive dune grass along Lake Michigan.

To break down the massing and scale of both the enclosures and the open site, an arrangement of volumes purposely shapes different outdoor rooms and creates smaller, defined interior living spaces.

Clad in soft, weathering materials, vernacular forms with polished black metal windows and doors elegantly bridge traditional with modern. The street-facing “neighborhood” facade is formally expressed with crisp black steel punched openings that protect privacy. By contrast, on the lake side floor-to-ceiling glass provides panoramic westward views and connection to the dunes and Lake Michigan.

Horizontal shiplap wood cladding and cedar shingles are detailed in a taut, minimal way and are designed to both protect and weather gracefully in the constant wind coming off the lake. Instead of using endangered hardwood siding, an acetylated wood siding, Radiata Accoya, was selected for its sustainable, durable, and rot-resisting features.

Inside, finer finishes contrast to the weathered outside surfaces; warm textures enhance the intimate spaces to inhabit. Gathering spaces throughout the separate volumes are all united by continuous white oak floors, ceilings and millwork. A suspended steel entry staircase features monolithic white oak treads and a wood top-rail attached to the steel railings.

Together, with the clustered building approach, the coalescence of wood, glass, and metal infuses the home with intimacy and texture and the ever-changing dance of light, wind, sand and water.