N.C. Mountain Lake House
The couple who own this remarkable piece of land had been working initially with a different architectural team, but they were dissatisfied with the results. They decided to start over, hiring Sarah Susanka and Tina Govan to help them bring the house of their dreams into being, a house to retire to, as well as a house for family and friends to gather on a regular basis.
Their wishes were simple, but their aspirations grand. They wanted a house that would allow them to connect with the views of the surrounding lake from as many vantages as possible, and they wanted a quality of home that would make them feel at once peaceful and inspired, with a strong sense of connection to the site. They wanted a house that would work well when just the two of them were at home, but which could also expand to house their extended family when everyone gathered at the lake. In essence, it needed to function as two houses in one.
There was a very active planning and design review committee that had both stringent design requirements, and strong opinions about what would be acceptable from a design standpoint. So a big piece of the architectural puzzle for this house was to design something that would meet the aesthetic desires of the clients, while meeting the letter of the more traditionally oriented design guidelines of the community.
Sarah and Tina worked collaboratively throughout the process. A primary goal of the architects was to connect the house with the land, creating a visual pathway to the lake as you approach the house, and a pedestrian pathway from the parking area, a choreographed journey through site and down to the lake below, with the house laced along its edge.
The house was conceived as a series of connected buildings, with wide eaves, generous porch and breezeway, and many outdoor spaces offering the opportunity to move effortlessly from inside to out. A series of movable Phantom screens allows the house to be completely opened to the outdoors when the weather is appropriate, as well as to open the center breezeway to the terrace and lake view beyond.
The breezeway and roof deck are key features of the house. With folding glass doors on either side, the breezeway walls disappear, seamlessly connecting both sides of the site. From the eastern patio, you can walk straight out to the roof deck with expansive views on all sides. Here you find a lakeside outdoor living room with fireplace, embedded in the body of the house. With doors to the master bedroom, living room and central breezeway, it allows the interior of the house to spill out onto this dramatic outdoor room.
From the lakeside, the house reveals itself as a full walk out, with magnificent views from all levels. On this side, the structure has been designed to appear to float above its site, supported by massive peeled Cedar trunks. This elevation reveals another key feature of the home: an eyebrow roof with oculus above, over the central sitting alcove that opens off the main living area and offers a spectacular view down the length of the lake.
This meditative mountain retreat is an interweaving of indoor and outdoor spaces, a gathering of roofs that float over building and landscape, a peaceful retirement home for two and a family gathering place for many.
East side of the house, as you approach by car and on foot, looking toward the lake. The breezeway is open, with its clear shot through to the lake and roof deck beyond.
This is the main axis of the house, continuing from the master bedroom, through the breezeway, living room, and dining room, and out to the screen porch beyond.
The living area, with oculus and western alcove facing the lake.