Minneapolis-based prefab purveyors Alchemy Architects has completed the Lake Elmo weeHouse, one of the newest additions to its growing portfolio of weeHouses, a series of eco-friendly homes built with the firm’s patented prefabricated housing system. Named after its location in Minnesota, the Lake Elmo weeHouse demonstrates efficient and space-saving design by fitting three bedrooms, two bathrooms and an open layout in 990 square feet without compromising a sense of spaciousness or views. The home is elevated above the ground on helical piers embedded 22 feet underground to minimize site impact.
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Completed in 2019, the Lake Elmo weeHouse was commissioned by clients who split their time between Australia and Minnesota. As a result, the architects wrapped the home in low-maintenance and durable weathering steel as well as black cedar cladding to recede the building into the forested landscape. The simple, boxy design responds to the project’s constraints that include a modest budget as well as a maximum zoning height of 16 feet above the flood plain, which was also a major factor of the project.
Surrounding views of the forest and the need for privacy from neighboring plots informed the placement of Lake Elmo weeHouse’s many windows, including the full-height glazed doors that slide open to connect the living spaces to a wide, enclosed deck for a seamless indoor/outdoor living experience. A spacious entry porch provides additional elevated outdoor space.
Inside, the bright, light-filled interiors provide a striking contrast with the dark, weathered steel facade. A kitchen located in the open-plan heart of the home draws the eye with its silver accents, while a built-in bench provides views of the wetland at the end of the hallway. To minimize visual clutter, mechanical equipment is tucked underneath a trap door in the kitchen. In-floor hydronic heating keeps the home warm and cozy during Minnesota’s long winters.
Photography by Brooks Geenen via Alchemy Architects