THERE IS MORE THAN one way to do a site-specific building. You can go with the one-with-nature approach or the contrast-to-nature approach. Or you can do a little of both. Johnsen Schmaling Architects made this vacation home modern but used the bark of the trees, the foliage, and the hillside to inform its design decisions.
Nestled on a heavily wooded site in rural Wisconsin, the house is a response to its context. It is, in essence, two low-slung, bar-shaped volumes, placed perpendicular to each other and tucked into a steep lakefront bluff. The lower level contains the home's private spaces; the upper level features wide-open living rooms with stained concrete floors and exposed glulam beams.
To capture the views—and light—the architects used a folding glass-door system and fixed-glass openings throughout. The definitive note, however, is sounded by the exterior, clad in untreated cedar and layered with colorful wood veneer panels applied in an organization that echoes the trees on the site.