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  1. ArchDaily
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  5. Hutchison & Maul Architecture
  6. 2007
  7. Courtyard House on a Steep Site / Hutchison & Maul Architecture

Courtyard House on a Steep Site / Hutchison & Maul Architecture

  • 00:00 - 31 December, 2009
Courtyard House on a Steep Site / Hutchison & Maul Architecture
Courtyard House on a Steep Site / Hutchison & Maul Architecture, © Eduardo Calderon
© Eduardo Calderon

© Tom Hille © Eduardo Calderon © Alan Abramowitz © Eduardo Calderon + 30

  • Architects

  • Location

    Mercer Island, United States
  • Design Team

    Robert Hutchison, Tom Maul, Joyce Puri
  • Interior Design

    Hutchison & Maul Architecture w/ Julie Petri
  • Landscape Architect

    Bruce Hinckley, Alchemie
  • Structural Engineer

    Jeff Albert
  • Mechanical Engineer

    Rainbow Consulting
  • Contractor

    EH Construction
  • Area

    623.0 m2
  • Project Year

  • Photographs

Text description provided by the architects. The site is very steep, long and narrow – 50’ wide by 400’ long with an average slope of 35%. Located on the west side of Mercer Island, there are panoramic views west towards Seattle and the Olympic Mountains beyond. Zoning permitted construction on only 35’ of the 50’ property width, and limited the height of the building to 30’ relative to the slope of the site.

Exterior terraces and courtyards are carved into the sloping hillside to facilitate pedestrian circulation throughout the site; to provide natural light throughout the primary levels of the house; and to provide privacy from the neighboring properties. The house consists of two parts: a concrete plinth which contains utilitarian and less-used spaces; and a hovering wood volume above that contains the private functions of family bedrooms and bathrooms. The resulting space sandwiched between the wood structure and concrete plinth houses the primary living areas, bound by large expanses of glazing that afford views through the open level of the house to the Lake beyond.

© Alan Abramowitz
© Alan Abramowitz

To access the house, one navigates through the series of excavated exterior terraces and stairways, across water features and bridges, then down another stairway, finally arriving at a small exterior glass-enclosed courtyard in the center of the residence. This entry sequence informed the shape of the wood volume as well as the placement and configuration of the concrete retaining walls. Horizontal wood siding assembled with members of alternating depth enhance the notions of texture, shadow and perspective; contrast with the smooth concrete site walls; and ultimately heighten the journey from driveway to center of house.

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Hutchison & Maul Architecture
Cite: "Courtyard House on a Steep Site / Hutchison & Maul Architecture" 31 Dec 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884
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