THE LINEAR CABIN, St Germain, Wisconsin | 2015
Architects: Johnsen Schmaling Architects
Client: Julie Sager
General Contractor: J & J Lee Construction Co.
Photographers: John J. Macaulay
The Linear Cabin is a small, unassuming family retreat, its long, low-slung body sitting on top of a steep bluff overlooking Alma Lake in the sparsely populated Northwoods region of Wisconsin. A narrow gravel road weaves through the forest and leads to a small clearing, where the simple, 900-square-foot bar building marks the threshold between the densely wooded plateau and the lake bluff beyond. With its simple plan, restrained use of materials, and precise detailing, the Linear Cabin continues Wisconsin’s rich legacy of cabin architecture – an unapologetically contemporary building that echoes the elegant clarity and rustic warmth of its typological predecessors while carefully avoiding bucolic sentimentality.
The cabin is organized as a series of three identically sized, nearly opaque boxes separated by spatial voids, all tied together with a continuous, thin roof plane that spans the entire length of the building. The storage box offers space for canoes, tools, and logging equipment; the service box contains the cabin infrastructure, including entry, kitchen, bathroom, laundry, and boiler room; and the sleeping box houses two bunk rooms. The void between storage and service boxes is unenclosed, framing views from the clearing toward the lake and offering a covered spot for a vehicle when needed. The void between service and sleeping boxes functions as the hearth room, the center of the cabin anchored by a wood-burning stove. The 15’ wide lift-slide glass doors bracketing the hearth room serve as picture frames, allowing for unobstructed views through the building from the outside and into the sylvan landscape from within.