Doe Bay Cabin / Heliotrope Architects

© Ben Benschnieder

Located on in Washington, the Doe Bay Cabin bespeaks a keen attention to material economy and site sensitivity. Designed by Seattle-based Heliotrope Architects, the small residence utilizes the efficiency of prefabricated building elements to formalize the clients’ modest cohabitation with the site and it’s incredible natural offerings. More photographs and drawings after the break.

Architects: Heliotrope Architects
Location: Orcas Island, Washington, USA
General Contractor: Sudden Homes
Project Area: 1,050 sqf
Project Year: 2008
Photographs: Benjamin Benschnieder

For the clients, who had been regularly traveling to a nearby resort  for over two decades, the choice to build a cabin on Orcas Island embodies their deep affection for the place. With two young children, the family chose eventually to formalize this affection by purchasing property on the island and commissioning Heliotrope to design a vacation cabin.

Faced with a modest budget, Heliotrope chose a simple building form which could be easily constructed with readily-available prefabricated building elements, namely structurally insulated panels (SIPS). The SIPS afford the project a highly efficient envelope, a necessary feature in the San Juan Islands region of Washington.

Structural Diagram

The design combines this rigorous approach to efficiency with several outstanding features, including a garden roof and a 19ft high by 22ft wide window-wall with unobstructed views down the Rosario Strait. The project features handsome detailing throughout, and holistically reflects both the spirit of the place and the Japanese and Chinese heritage of the owners. And with only 1000 square feet of living space, the project provides further proof that good things often come in small packages.

Cite: "Doe Bay Cabin / Heliotrope Architects" 18 Aug 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 May 2015. <>