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Dreamy modern farmhouse honors the prairie landscape

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Collective Office built outwards instead of upwards

Three volumes on grassy plot of prairie land. Mike Schwartz courtesy Collective Office

The prairie is a place of openness, where the sky is big and the land is flat. Anything built on top of it becomes a focal point on the big horizon, which is why Chicago architecture studio Collective Office designed this house to commune with the prairie instead of overwhelm it.

A retired couple from Chicago commissioned the firm to design a low-impact home on 19 acres of rolling grassland near Lake Geneva in Southern Wisconsin. Instead of building upward, Collective Office split the house into three staggered volumes that are connected through interior hallways. “Their dream was to build a one-story house that was emerging out of the crest of this prairie,” architect Jeff Klymson of Collective Office told Dwell.

The three volumes rise into a classic gabled form, which means fantastic natural light under vaulted ceilings, and are clad in black standing seam metal and Alaskan yellow cedar shingles. Each building is dedicated to a different function: the volume closest to the pool houses the bedrooms and bathrooms; the middle room is home to the living room and kitchen; the last volume contains a garage and screened-in porch that opens directly outside.

The separation of space is clever—it builds lots of privacy into the open, airy layout. And it’s all pulled together inside with a beautifully simple palette of light timber and neutral finishes.

Living room featuring angled roof and large windows. Mike Schwartz courtesy Collective Office
Open plan kitchen with large island. Mike Schwartz courtesy Collective Office
Open plan kitchen featuring dining table and island. Mike Schwartz courtesy Collective Office
Stairway leading downstairs Mike Schwartz courtesy Collective Office
Exterior of house clad in black steel. Mike Schwartz courtesy Collective Office