Wooded Island Camp
Oxford Country, Maine
Project Team: Will Winkelman, Melissa Andrews
Builder: Henry Banks, H B Wood Co.
Structural Engineer: Albert Putnam Associates
Photography: Jeff Roberts
Off-the-grid Maine island camp with plenty of creature comforts
The site is a 3.2 acre, private island on the quiet, less developed end of an Oxford County pond. The island is heavily wooded with old growth oak trees and has sweeping 360 degree views to the pond. An existing camp was located on the site allowing to rebuild to a 60 foot setback from the shore. A small, existing clearing near the camp was a natural place to build while maintaining as keeping as many of the old growth trees as possible. Being on an island meant that the new camp needed to be off the grid. Because of the island location, all building materials and builders themselves had to travel to the island by boats.
The clients wanted a modest (1700 sf, including screened porches and loft bedroom) camp to accommodate their family of four as well as guests. There is an overflow platform tent when additional sleeping quarters are needed.
The program was divided into small “pods” linked by porches. There is a one-and-half story
sleeping pod with a main level bedroom, loft bedroom, full bath, and storage. An entry porch links the sleeping pod to the kitchen/living pod. Off the kitchen/living pod is a large screened in porch with sweeping views to of the pond. The porch is designed with flexibility in mind to allow for half of the space to be closed off with folding glass panels to protect from the elements in inclement weather. Seasonally the bedroom pod can be closed off and custom built futons and a high loft allow for sleeping space near a soapstone wood stove.
Not wanting to detract from the beauty of the wooded site the camp was designed to blend in with the surroundings. Because the island is located on the less developed end of the pond the clients and design team were very sensitive to making sure the building was screened from view and light and transparent. The inspiration for camp was found in modest Scandinavian camps that blended into the natural surroundings. The building is highly crafted, with every finish being carefully selected. Shed roofs were used to focus and open the views out towards the water and woods and flood the spaces with natural light.
The builder, Henry Banks, sourced southern yellow pine timbers from a dismantled Maine paper mill which were milled to size for roof framing and select woodwork, revealing the beauty of the reclaimed wood. A select number of oak trees were cleared for the new camp as well as to create a small clearing to provide adequate sun on a small shed with solar hot water and solar electric panels on a pivoting roof (to seasonally optimize the sun angle) and these trees were also milled on site with a portable sawmill, this wood was used for some interior finished as well furniture.
The design goal for the exterior siding was to mimic the feel and color of bark so hand-split cedar shakes were used to provide texture and a semi-transparent charcoal gray stain was used. To blur the boundary between the interior and exterior the same cedar shake finish was used in the porches, as well as the stair hall, full bath, and loft bedroom.
The camp’s seasonal nature allowed for a generous amount of windows to maximize natural light and further blur the boundary between the interior and exterior, bringing in dramatic views of the pond as well as the towering oak trees.
To maximize sunlight (limited electricity) site-built custom skylights were incorporated in the metal standing seam roofs in the porch, kitchen, stair hall, and full bath. The skylights provide views of the soaring oak trees that the camp is nestled in between.
Other materials used include douglas fir ceilings, soffits and wall boarding, torrefied oak flooring, garapa flooring with torrefied oak spacers, garapa screen doors.