Architects: Works Partnership Architecture (W.PA)
Location: Portland, Oregon, USA
Project area: 5,382 sq. ft.
Project year: 2010
Photographs: Bruce Wolf, Works Partnership Architecture
Situated on the corner of Southeast 28th Avenue & Southeast Pine Street, the tandemDUO project is two homes located in a established close-in Portland neighborhood. Both homes provide 3 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, a 2 car garage, as well as both an outdoor dining terrace and rooftop deck. The development of these homes introduces a unique take on the functional split-level house while providing the literal and visual connections desired in the layout of a modern home.
The mid-century post war split level suburban house offers inspiration for the urban in-fill lot. Those models were located on larger lots and their configurations allowed for gracious views across and through to the slightly offset levels. The urban in-fill lots in close-in Portland have most recently been dotted with skinny lot housing; basic stacked rooms over an street facing garage. Finding the essential spatial beauty in the split level concept pulls from Le Corbusier’s Villa Carthage – the main living areas hover above the ground plane and the internal spaces interlock and stack to culminate in an exterior roof garden that looks out across the neighborhood.
The two houses sit next to each other, like twins locked arm-in-arm. The twin masses are identical in spatial layout. The siting of the homes arrives in the simple gesture of one turning to face its own street. The large living room aperture on the corner home is rotated to address the change in frontage. The main living space in each house is highlighted by a corten cladding. The cladding is a perforated sheet that provides screening at windows in the broad face planes. Each mass is a box that points an aperture towards the exterior. The boxes stack and interlock; expressing the exchange of volume that is occurring within.
The central stair is carefully slotted between the stacking volumes. The stair itself is formed from a perforated steel sheet; bent in sections to form the treads and risers. The stair is welded to steel pins that connect to the vertical slats that form the walls of the slot. The structural slats provide a fine grain screen that also provides the needed guardrail moving up through the house. The natural light streaming into the center of the house will evoke the play of light and shadow from a wooded path. The stair allows light and views to pass through and floats precariously between the walls within the slot.