Loken Residence

Location: Duluth. Minnesota, United States Year of construction: 1996 Architect: David Salmela Associates: Rod & Sons Carpentry Photography: Peter Kerze

This project is the result of improvements and extensions to a house that already stood on this mountain site and was originally used as a small family summer home. The Loken Residence stands just a few yards from Big Sucker – a stony river with lots of waterfalls that flows through the site – and about a mile from Lake Superior in Minnesota. The topographical conditions of the site, some 330 ft (100 m) above the lake, give it a stunning panoramic view of the lake and surrounding area.

The original building, which dates from 1910, had undergone a number of poorly-planned changes, remodeling work, and extensions. Over the course of the years the damage these changes had inflicted on the structure and its foundations gradually became more apparent. When the current owner decided to undertake a building project to satisfy his needs and those of his family, he saw this as an opportunity to restore the old building to its original character. This became the springboard for the project.

A number of different factors played their part in the design process: the history of the place and its traditional vernacular cabin architecture, the changes to the original house, the family’s Norwegian roots and their passion for Scandinavian design, and the need to provide their horses with shelter and to create a display area for their enormous collection of timepieces. However, the most powerful influence of all was simply the curiosity and tremendous interest the clients showed in the architectural process.

The dominant material in both interior and exterior is wood, the plastic capabilities of which have been used to their full advantage. The traditional typology of the mountain cabin, very common in the area, has been reinterpreted here to produce interior spaces that are clean and simple. On the exterior, however, a wide formal repertoire can be found that slots comfortably into space in the surrounding landscape.

Updated: 18th October 2014 — 3:02 pm