Lake Retreat 2016 2017-11-19T18:57:28+00:00


Modern architecture owes a great debt to the Japanese. Innovators like Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe were transformed by visits to the remote country. The Sukiya style was especially novel to Western minds.

This aesthetic developed in the last few centuries of Japan’s isolation, and is truly unique. Nature is revered above all; walls dematerialize to frame wild surroundings, knots and bark remain on columns, and a sense of stillness prevails. Below the surface, ingenious and painstaking carpentry allows complex joinery which is outwardly simple. This paradox, the precision demanded by minimalism, has not lost its relevance.

I placed this house midway up a lakeside bluff. Domestic spaces are earth-sheltered on the lower level. Beyond is a tall space surrounded by wood columns, on a plinth overlooking a pine forest. The approach is from uphill, presenting a modest one-story façade and entrance. This house is meant to be understated, opening our senses to nature.