Built by Chicago-based firm Wheeler Kearns Architects, the Ravine House is a beautiful home that sits tucked into a natural forest setting just outside of Highland Park, Illinois. Working directly with the nature-loving homeowners, the architects strategically focused on blending the minimalist home, which was built with natural materials, into the idyllic surroundings while reducing its impact as much as possible.
The Ravine House comes in at more than 4,500 square feet across a single-story, rectangular volume. Sitting adjacent to a deep ravine, the home’s layout was designed to include the native vegetation that covers the area. In fact, one corner of the volume is “broken” and set apart in order to create an entrance courtyard, where the vegetation is first incorporated into the living space. The courtyard’s local stones and birch trees pay homage to the homeowners’ love of nature.
In addition to incorporating the native plants and trees into the design, the home uses a variety of natural materials to blend into its natural forest backdrop. The exterior cladding is comprised of dark metal siding and a vertical rain screen made out of panels of American Black Locust, which was chosen for its durability.
On the interior, walls of American Walnut and continuous white oak floors run throughout the living space. Large expanses of glass wrap around the Ravine House, further blending the exterior with the interior. A minimalist, yet cozy, interior design deftly puts the focus on the surrounding views while providing a comfortable living area for the family.
In addition to the various uses of wood for a more sustainable design, protecting the landscape was also an essential element to the Ravine House project. During the construction process, the homeowners began to restore the adjacent ravine, which was being damaged by invasive species. They planted no-mow meadows to surround the home as well as multiple beds of vegetable gardens.
Photography by Tom Rossiter via Wheeler Kearns Architects