In many ways the birthplace of American Modernism, the Midwest offers a rich architectural tapestry of residential gems from the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright and Ludwig Mies van Der Rohe, and countless others who followed in their footsteps. Some decades later, this pioneering spirit lives on, as the Midwest is again making a name for itself with radical residential architecture that seeks to challenge the way we interact with nature in both material and structure. Take for example work from Chicago-based firms like Booth Hansen and Studio Dwell, which both use the local intricacies of natural surroundings to extraordinary effect.
New Buffalo Residence, New Buffalo, Michigan, Booth Hansen
On the edge of Lake Michigan, Booth Hansen’s New Buffalo Residence elegantly bridges indoors and outdoors with its four connected cedar-clad cabins. Each cabin, delineated by simple triangular and square geometries, carries a distinct function: Gathering, Master Suite, Guest, and Storage.
Flint Hills Residence, Alma, Kansas, El Dorado
Mimicking the region’s traditional farmhouse vernacular, El Dorado’s Flint Hills Residence combines four rectangular wings under corrugated metal roofs. Paying homage to the town’s “City of Native Stone” designation, el Dorado used limestone from a nearby quarry to construct the home’s chimney and landscape walls.
River View House, Wayne, Illinois, Studio Dwell
Situated in the township of Wayne, Illinois, Studio Dwell’s River View house gets its name from nearby Fox River. The home, its base concrete, and its upper level clad in charcoal-anodized aluminum panels were designed to maximize views of the waterway through inverted living and sleeping quarters and extensive glass walls.
Shelton Residence, Kansas City, El Dorado
Located on a sloping site in Kansas City’s Westside neighborhood, El Dorado’s Shelton Residence features a sunken entry courtyard and terraced gardens, which serve to bring natural light and greenery inside. The residences doubles as a study in current sustainability practices with its solar screening, superinsulated building envelope, and radiant floor heating.
Nordic Light, St. Paul, Minnesota, D/O
Designed to maximize natural light during Minnesota’s long, dark winters, Nordic Light features reflective white oak floors and ceilings that bounce light in a vertical plane. The wood is a nod to the local prominence of oak and aspen savannas, whose presence on the property was also used to delineate the site plan.