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Barn meets loft

  • Article by: LYNN UNDERWOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 11, 2008 - 10:17 AM

Emmet Klocker wanted an edgy, urban space, but didn't want to leave his rural roots. The solution? A 2,300-square-foot house with a rural shape and modern interior.

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With bare concrete floors, a funky steel staircase and wide open living spaces, Emmet Klocker's home has the vibe of a modern warehouse condominium -- until you look outside and see rolling fields and farmhouses.

Klocker's house, set on 8 acres in Clearwater, Minn., just outside of St. Cloud, combines "the rural characteristics of a modern pole barn with the spirit of an urban loft," said its designer, architect Geoffrey Warner of Alchemy Architects in St. Paul.

It was the form of the ubiquitous pole barn that inspired the home's two-level, minimalist rectangular shape, said Warner. But with a twist.

Warner created a sawtooth-style roof design that sets it apart from the traditional pole barns that dot this country landscape.

"I sliced the pole barn shape into four pieces and flipped the sections back and forth," he said.

The result is more sculptural, accented by high clerestory widows that stick out on the north and south, dormer-style.

"It's not your normal farmhouse," said Klocker, 31. "But it's still not that different from the barns and utility buildings around here."

For Warner, the Klocker project was something of an experiment and an opportunity to work with new materials and ideas.

"The home is a simple, understated form," he said. "But it's strong and respectful of the rural vernacular."

That rural theme starts at the front entry, which is painted barn red. Inside, the steel staircase is flanked by a two-story wall of golden birch panels and Ikea cabinets that are stacked atop one another, mimicking hay bales.

Warner integrated an assortment of raw materials, including concrete, unstained wood and steel.

An exposed steel beam, for example, supports the roof and eliminates the need for a truss system. The staircase is made of hot-rolled steel panels and leads to a master bedroom loft. A metal ship's ladder leads to an office loft.

Warner balanced those cold metal surfaces with honey-colored birch woodwork and a Douglas fir plywood ceiling.

Those materials were chosen in part because they offered value. The final cost of the 2,300-square-foot home was about $150 per square foot.

"It allowed us to do creative things, but it wasn't an open checkbook," Warner said.

Energy-efficiency and low-maintenance were high priorities, as well, so the house is warmed by in-floor heat while the clerestory windows provide natural daylight and improve ventilation.

The house is constructed entirely of SIPs -- structural insulated panels made from foam sandwiched between sheets of oriented strand board -- which allowed the structure to be erected and enclosed in only three days.

It was, Warner said, "a perfect system to use because of the long prefabricated wall panels that worked great for a pole barn shape."

The clean modern lines and open floor plan are exactly what Klocker, who shares the house with his partner, Nikki Ramler, and their daughter, Ruby, envisioned when he bought the land in 2000.

He grew up on a hobby farm in nearby Collegeville, Minn., and wanted to stay in the area.

"I travel a lot and it's nice to get away from all that," said Klocker, who works as a traveling sales rep for a sports clothing company. "It's so quiet out here."

Lynn Underwood • 612-673-7619

  • about this series

  • The Home of the Month program is a partnership between the Star Tribune and the Minnesota chapter of the American Institute of Architects. It features architect-designed houses selected by a jury of experts. The houses represent a range of prices, styles and locations.
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  • About this house

    Thursday April 10, 2008

    ABOUT THIS HOUSEArchitect: Geoffrey Warner, principal, Alchemy Architects, St. Paul.Location: Clearwater, Minn.Contractor: Randy Poganski, St. Cloud.Total square feet: 2,300.Cost per...

  • Emmet Klocker's home in Clearwater, Minn.

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