Colman Triplex / Workshop Architecture|Design


Architects: Workshop Architecture|Design
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Principal in Charge: Steve Bull, AIA, LEED
Project Team: Dan Rusler, James
Interior Design: LairDesign
Structural Engineering: HSV Engineers
General Contractor: Lair LLC
Project Area: 3,750 sq ft
Project Year: 2010
Photographs: Workshop Architecture|Design


A 40’ X 100’ inner-city lot that slopes eight feet from west to east. The property has views of downtown Seattle across a park that lies both to the east and north. To allow each dwelling to inhabit a specific portion of the site, the sloping topography was reshaped into two distinct levels.

site & lower level plans


The design was informed by four primary considerations:

  • Economy of space within strict land use limitations
  • Variations in individual dwelling program and configuration
  • Direct access to landscape and exterior space
  • Exploration of the exterior cladding screen
© Workshop Architecture|Design

Design & Performance


Within a primary box-like form the design team responded to budget and strict land use limitations on building height and lot coverage to configure three separate dwellings that each provides direct and visual access to landscape and exterior space. The organization of the dwellings are free to rotate or flip as each flat responds directly to different program requirements and varying visual and physical landscape connections available at each level of the structure.

structure axo


Instead of constructing apartment flats based on an organizational typology reliant on a series of stacked bearing walls, an internal structural steel frame is used to provide interior bearing. The frame is secondary to the spatial organization and connections of each dwelling and is therefore concealed within the non-load bearing walls.

unit configuration & landscape connections
© Workshop Architecture|Design


Through operations of subtraction, larger scale spatial relationships are made between interior and exterior spaces. These operations create both apertures, openings that provide daylight and visual connections between inside and out, and porches, or habitable covered exterior space. Derived through both activity and environmental criteria, these apertures and porches are used to control sunlight and rain while filling the spaces with daylight. A broad horizontal array of windows connects the upper dwelling’s main living space to the sky and distant view. A private interior light-well brings daylight and a private landscape into the master bathroom. Entry porches, similar to the historical fabric of neighborhood, both buffer and connect the adjacent park to the open living spaces.

© Workshop Architecture|Design


A horizontal 1×4 exterior cladding rain-screen wraps the projects. Variations of the screen are used to preserve the initial figure and simplicity of the rectangular box.

Cite: "Colman Triplex / Workshop Architecture|Design" 21 Jul 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 25 May 2015. <>
  • Albert

    It’s interestingly simplistic. But somehow I feel that “less is BORE” in this cute project. Maybe I am wrong?

    • R Goldschmidt

      No, I think that you are right, Less it is boring. It is an inexpresive with box. And anyway, I don’t like the bauhouse design. I don’t like to live in industial and inexpresive home, with cold material and brutal lines. Maybe, it is a maybe, a litle color from the De Stijl stile like Gerrit Rietveld’s Schroder House.

    • Dan

      Just remember your reaction is subjective. I would presume the owner loves it. I like it. To each his own. Its confusing to use phrases like “the design is boring” or the “design looks bad”, unless we realize that objects don’t posses interest or beauty – those are reactions in the brains of the observers.

    • 罗威


    • Rosalind Derby

      This looks like a CAD drawing on the Holste Architecture website: I think Holste architecture have the best site in the world

  • Arquipablo

    Simply…nice spaces, good details…love it

  • Anson

    Did anyone else see this weeks episode of Top Gear? This house looks like Jeremy’s attempt at building an “architecturally designed” motor home.

  • Anson
  • Ozmoto

    I like it… but there is a psychological problem for me have the corporate/industrial look at home. When you’re standing in the kitchen with your underwear on, one might flash back to being in the conference room at the office. Weird… you know?

    • James Harrison


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  • James Harrison

    Sure, it may work as a machine for living, but it doesn’t inspire Life Also, the mutoid (in my humble opinion)who has most flagrantly nailed on the cladding should have their tools removed from them and try something else. (like glasses)