- Architect In Charge: Robert Hutchison, Scott Claassen
- Interior Designer: Carla Allbee
- Structural Engineer: Perbix Bykonen
- City: Seattle
- Country: United States
Text description provided by the architects. The clients, both working professionals, had lived in a compact Seattle bungalow for fifteen years on this small site overlooking Portage Bay and the University of Washington campus. They loved the convenient location to the University and downtown Seattle, as well as the dynamic water views animated with rowing shells and sailboats. But the inefficient bungalow was cold in the winter and hot in the summer, had poor natural light, and suffered from significant water intrusion problems. The couple decided to construct a new house on the same property—one that would distill their urban lifestyle into an equally small footprint, yet was specifically tailored to the unique qualities of the site. To assist in financing the project, they devoted a third of the available living area to a rentable mother-in-law apartment.
Early design discussions focused on a simple modern structure with a restrained material palette and constructed on a modest budget. The owners desired a home that was open, light-filled, and private but also transparent and oriented towards the water and city views. Above all, they desired a design that would allow both the residence and mother-in-law apartment to capitalize on the sweeping views, while also maintaining distinct privacy between both programs.
The resulting design places the primary residential living spaces on the upper floor, and the mother-in-law unit on the lower floor at the back of the site. The building turns its back to the street while opening up to the northeast views with a large glazed corner window system. The primary architectural strategy was to connect the exterior entry, primary interior living areas, and exterior patio as a continuous spatial experience. A series of stepped concrete site walls leads gradually up to a covered exterior entry, which opens to a compressed entry foyer, which in turn leads to a double-height space welcoming users up a generous stair to the second-floor living spaces. From the second floor, an exterior stair connects back down to a small patio at grade. The entire house is clad in Western red cedar siding that has been stained black. Serving as a graphic complement to the cantilever theme of the house, the siding is oriented both vertically and horizontally in alternating planes.