While it may not look like an exercise in simplicity, this playful ceiling is actually the result of a pared-down plan. As part of a lakeside summer retreat, the design flows from the plan’s roots, which hark back to the minimalist nature of a camp, featuring rustic natural materials and no insulation or air conditioning. But the stripped-down structure is hardly roughing it, especially where design is concerned. On the contrary, the lack of insulation and duct work opened up an opportunity to upgrade the roof’s interior framing from a functional underpinning to an overhead focal point.

To make the most of the exposed rafters, the team at Albert, Righter & Tittmann Architects rotated the roof’s ridge 90 degrees, so it runs perpendicular to the length of the building rather than parallel. The architects then carved out a half-pyramid–shaped space from one side, creating an origami-like series of rafters that lend excitement to an otherwise simple, rectangular plan. “It’s a simple move, but it has a dramatic effect,” says John Tittmann, a principal at the firm.

Beyond the aesthetic benefits, the tall, angular configuration also created opportunities to include more vertical windows in the roof structure, bringing natural light into the open living areas.

“What’s fun about this roof is that it does make you look at it,” Tittmann says. “It’s so zippy and zany that you have to stop to figure out what’s going on. It makes for a very dynamic interior.”