Rustic timber screens give this New England lakefront home a unique flavor, but they aren’t there for looks alone. They shield its southern façade from the high summer sun while allowing winter rays to penetrate inside, helping to minimize seasonal heating and cooling loads. And they provide an exo-skin that keeps precipitation out.
“It struck me that if you used round tubes, they would shed water more effectively than a regular louver and cast nice shadows,” explains architect Mark Simon, who had seen similar solutions on high-rise commercial buildings using metal tubes. That thought train led to wooden dowels and then to logs, which required far less processing (cutting, sanding, and transport) than milled boards. “The clients were stunned at first but then decided they liked it,” he says. So much so, in fact, that the “twigs in bondage” motif (as Simon calls it) makes cameo appearances in the home’s sculptural interiors, too.
Harvested within 50 miles of the site, the pine logs were peeled and prepped with a natural salt preservative, but otherwise left au naturel. It’s a raw kind of beauty, although their configuration is not quite as haphazard as nature would have it. “The logs were not randomly placed at the time of construction,” says Simon. “We laid out the array in a field and got ourselves up in a cherry picker. Then we had the guys move them around with a backhoe until they felt like they were poetically placed. It’s what first-year art professors call ‘dynamic balance.’”