Located equidistant between Calgary and Edmonton in Canada is a 9-mile-long body of fresh water called Sylvan Lake. Taken by Min/Day’s award-winning House on Lake Okoboji in Iowa, the owners of an “old, beat-up property” approached the firm about buying plans to the Okoboji project. But, says partner Jeffrey Day, AIA, “that’s something we wouldn’t do. The site contours were different, as was the climate.” Ultimately, the clients opted to hire the firm for a new site-specific design.
The Okoboji project did offer hints about how to go forward, however. Both lake properties contend with a proximate neighbor, a condition Jeff and firm partner, E.B. Min, resolve with deft architecture, siting, and privacy fencing. Another challenge is the project’s remote location, far from the skilled labor necessary to build a high-design house. And the clients were loath to lose high-season time at the lake. So, the team devised a solution that’s about “80 percent modular,” says Jeff, to be built some 800 miles away in the Method Homes factory in Seattle and finished on-site.
“We looked at a Canadian company, but we weren’t all that comfortable with their capabilities. More important, their module was 14 feet versus Method’s 16, which would have caused major compromises to the spaces,” Jeff explains. With modular components, every dimension is critical. “It tends to lead to homes that are very cubic, so we created as many vertical elements as we could to relieve the stacked boxes look.” If all goes well, the house will be done by next summer.
House on Sylvan Lake, Alberta, Canada
Design principals: Jeffrey L. Day, AIA, and E.B. Min, AIA, Min/Day, San Francisco and Omaha, Neb.