LocationSan Juan County, United States
Text description provided by the architects. 54 years ago she visited Orcas Island for the first time and decided that one day she would live there. 40 years passed before she saw it again and purchased a forested piece of land on a hillside populated with madrone trees, firs, beech, thistle, moss and rocks with magnificent views to the west. Throughout her life rocks, nature and landscape played an important role in her artwork. It was this attraction that convinced her that this was the perfect site to fulfill her dream.
She requested an open, simple, low maintenance design which works with the site in such a way that her connection to the island, forest and ledges were always present within the house. Each part of the house was to be designed to accommodate the inevitable bad hips, knees and back worn out from a lifetime of moving rocks, dirt and plants. The program consists of a combined kitchen-dining-living area, study, master suite, art studio and storage area with the flexibility to add bedrooms or an apartment.
The solution utilizes some of her favorite materials; old wood recycled from a 100 year old barn demolished in eastern Washington, rusty steel for the siding as well as moss and rocks salvaged from the building site. Large doors slide away to open the house to the expansive views, creating a living room in the woods. The entry garden bisects the house creating two zones while it carries the site into the house and the eye out to the view. The 800 s.f. art studio and storage areas are left raw to facilitate converting them to additional bedrooms at a later date.
To meet the client’s requirement that the house be highly efficient it is constructed of structural insulated panels (SIPS). This method allows for a faster construction time, less waste generation, tighter construction and better insulation. All the windows and doors are designed to surpass energy code requirements and all of the lighting is either LED or compact fluorescent to reduce energy consumption. The siting and design of the house maximize passive solar benefits to reduce the energy load. Most of the building materials are recyclable or recycled already. The pond liner is a leftover from the liner of the septic system sand filter, the fireplace, cooktop, fridge and some of the plumbing fixtures were purchased used. The bathroom counter is up cycled bullet proof glass from a bank that was being remodeled. To preserve local resources the small amount of construction waste was taken off island in about five loads in an SUV, the vast majority of which was recyclable materials.