Parti Shot: MP3 by Brininstool + Lynch

Just about 20 miles south of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin, an obelisk will rise from rolling Wisconsin farmland. Designed for an urban Chicago family, it will provide four-season immersion in nature. “It’s a nice piece of land—about 120 acres, filled with ravines, sandstone rock croppings, and 300-year-old oak trees. The house is just for enjoying that land. This whole thing is an icon or a monument to that,” says architect Brad Lynch, who’s designed multiple projects for the same clients.

For design inspiration, the firm tapped the colorful history of the “Badger State,” which derived its moniker from Cornish miners who worked the mineral deposits and bermed dwellings into the hillsides to protect against the long, harsh winters. In reference to this, the entry sequence takes visitors below ground along an axis carved by Cor-Ten steel and into the blunt end of the long, tall, rectangular building. “It’s this whole idea of tunneling through the house to get in,” Brad explains.

A soothing natural color palette coats the building. Masonry exterior walls evoke the weathered wood of agricultural buildings, earthy reds and browns line the interior walls, and Cor-Ten elements suggest old farm equipment rusting in the fields. Parallel 40-foot-long, 10-foot-high spans on the broad sides of the house open to the landscape, joining stone interior floors with matching exterior pavers to triple the breadth of the 18-foot-wide house. These portals and operable skylights provide natural ventilation, while the building’s hefty thermal mass aids passive heating and cooling. With its geothermal system and wind power, the project should approach net zero, says Brad, “Essentially, it’s off the grid.”

Project Credits

Mineral Point, Wis.

Architect: Brininstool + Lynch, Chicago

Project size: 3,600 square feet

Site size: 120-plus acres

Drawings: Brininstool + Lynch

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