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Cape Russell Retreat, Sharps Chapel, Tenn.

  • This lakefront retreat employs off-the-shelf materials to sophisticated effect.

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    This lakefront retreat employs off-the-shelf materials to sophisticated effect.

    Jeffrey Jacobs

    2011 Grand Award - Accessory Building
    Cape Russell Retreat, Sharps Chapel, Tenn.
    Sanders Pace Architecture, Knoxville, Tenn.

    This lakefront retreat employs off-the-shelf materials to sophisticated effect. A rooftop photovoltaic panel charges a bank of batteries, housed inside the bench, which powers the lights, refrigerator, and ceiling fans. A 400-gallon cistern stores rainwater harvested from the butterfly roof.

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    Located upstream from a hydroelectric dam, the building was designed to let high water flow through.

    Jeffrey Jacobs

    Located upstream from a hydroelectric dam, the building was designed to let high water flow through.

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    Walls of spaced cedar 2x4s were shop fabricated and trucked to the site for quick assembly.

    Jeffrey Jacobs

    Walls of spaced cedar 2x4s were shop fabricated and trucked to the site for quick assembly.

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    The floor plan and a view of the building from the lake.

    Brandon Pace

    The floor plan and a view of the building from the lake.

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    The building??s structural assemblies.

    Brandon Pace

    The building's structural assemblies.

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    Elevations and building section.

    Brandon Pace

    Elevations and building section.

This tiny building affords its owner a peaceful, low impact waterfront retreat while also meeting an unusual requirement. Because it’s located in the flowage easement of a hydroelectric dam, explains architect Brandon Pace, “it has to be permeable on three sides. You have to let water flow through the building.” Pace’s solution—unfinished cedar screen walls affixed to a welded steel structural frame—demonstrates how much functional art can be wrought from a stack of 2x4s. “We tried to get what looked like a random pattern from something that’s really carefully controlled,” says Pace of the wall panels, which were shop fabricated and trucked to the site.

Sheltered within are a seating area, a small kitchen, and a bench large enough for a nap. A rooftop photovoltaic panel charges a bank of batteries, housed inside the bench, which powers the lights, refrigerator, and ceiling fans. A 400-gallon cistern stores rainwater harvested from the butterfly roof. Our jury called the project “beautiful” and “concise.” One judge noted, “It’s a folly, but in the richest sense of the word.”


Entrant/Architect: Sanders Pace Architecture, Knoxville, Tenn.; Builder: JTI Construction, Knoxville; Living space: 176 square feet; Site: 0.94 acre; Construction cost: $268 per square foot; Photographer: Jeffrey Jacobs.


Product details

Kitchen fittings: Delta, www.deltafaucet.com; Paints/stains/wall finishes: Cabot Stains, www.cabotstain.com, Benjamin Moore, www.benjaminmoore.com; Solar energy system: BP Solar, www.bp.com