Text description provided by the architects. Located near the Burke Gilman bike trail, a linear park that connects Seattle’s neighborhoods (former Railroad Track), this house was designed for a Seattle couple who sought to live in a highly walkable and connected community.
The site is at a unique urban constellation, the contact zone of the Burke Gilman trail, a commercial district, a residential neighborhood, the University of Washington, and a hillside that descends to the Lake Washington ship canal. The site’s original house, spread across two city lots, has been replaced by a new home, which allows for a second house to be built in the future – bringing new density to the neighborhood.
The height of the house offers vistas of the greater Seattle area – view corridors of significant roads, landmarks, Lake Washington’s nature preserves, and Mt. Rainier. The building form is high and open at the front, and steps down toward the back, making the yard a quiet, private space. An angular roof form specifically responds to the interior space, while subtly referencing the conventional gable forms of neighboring houses.
Primary living and sleeping areas are located on the ground floor, allowing for the owners to stay in the house as their mobility decreases. The upper level is loft like, and has space for guests and an office. The design takes advantage of the width of a double lot and views of the lake, city, and mountains toward the southwest.
The innovative form contains many elements that reduce its impact on the environment. Its orientation allows it to warm up quickly in the morning while minimizing its heat gain in the summer afternoon. Exterior sunscreens are also designed to control excess solar gain on the southwest facade. The cold roof design, together with a high performance building envelope and efficient hydronic heating, keep energy consumption to a minimum. Two rainwater collection cisterns are buried in the backyard, where storage of a winter’s worth of water, collected from the house and garage roofs, provides water for summer gardening.
To answer to the house’s design concepts, emphasis was given to collaborating with local craftsmen and manufacturers of windows, sun screens, siding, lighting, and casework.