The Ranchero is a modern ski cabin designed by CAST Architecture nestled at the edge of a subalpine meadow in the small community of Mazama in Washington State’s the upper Methow Valley. The Ranchero is a base camp for a family of four, offering year round outdoor adventure and a social hub for gatherings of friends and family. The architects responded with a simple, rugged design that is responsive to the environment and low on maintenance, letting the family focus on the outdoors. The open plan home offers 1,600 square feet of living space plus 800 square feet of covered outdoor space.
The deep veranda, over-sized entry and ski wax room provide family and guests a functional landing zone between activities.
A view from the south shows how the house is split into two components linked by a single sloped roofline. To the right is the 1,400-square-foot main house, and on the left is a 200-square-foot sauna. The sauna area includes a covered wooden shed and a wax room for preparing skis in the winter.
A simple material pallet focuses on highly durable, low maintenance solutions such as Cor-ten steel siding, aluminum clad windows and a concrete skirt that protects the structure’s base during the winter snowpack and spring snowmelt cycle.
With a spine that is aligned along an east west axis, the home is designed to take advantage of passive solar heat gain in the winter while minimizing solar heat gain in the summer.
Crisp white aluminum ceiling panels reflect light into the home and help blur the line between the indoors and outdoors.
The plan emphasizes simplicity, abundant natural light and a strong connection to the surrounding peaks and adjacent aspen grove. The public wing features an open floor plan with an expansive patio that sets the stage for relaxation and socializing. The corridor beyond the kitchen leads to the three bedrooms as well as the bathrooms, laundry and a small office.
Made from low-maintenance, paint-free aluminum panels, the white ceilings reflect sunlight into the home to make the interior brighter and less reliant on artificial lighting throughout the day.
The furnishings throughout the house pick up on the ruggedness of the architecture as well as the character of the landscape. Mild steel and integrally colored fiber cement panels clad the interior walls for a durable, paint free finish.
Peeling of steel also occurs at the entry, creating a shelf for keys, wallets, hats and so forth.
Low VOC finishes, concrete floors, and a heat recovery ventilator insure clean and healthy air.
Many of the unique details that take advantage of the materials are very subtle. In one corner of the kitchen, for example, the steel peels up to hold chalk for writing notes or drawings pictures on the wall.
The home features regionally crafted custom finish details, casework and furnishings throughout.
The private wing offers a master suite with an extra day bed, a ship’s berth inspired bunkroom, and peaceful getaway nooks.
Built at a modest scale with super insulated walls and ceilings, energy efficient windows and systems, the home is intended to minimize energy consumption.
A balance of rugged materials, a simple plan and clean lines help focus this mountain retreat on the place, people and adventures.
Photos: Courtesy of CAST Architecture
Water is a constant presence throughout this Washington Park Hilltop Residence by Stuart Silk Architects, set on a bluff in Seattle overlooking Lake Washington. Views of the vast lake, Mt. Rainier and North Cascades dictated the orientation and transparency of the elevation facing the water. A plan then evolved to integrate water features into the home, to be experienced from inside and out.
An unequal-sided “H” plan places the entry, living and dining areas in a central pavilion, while flanking wings contain the family’s private rooms. The passages to the wings are compressed between gently moving water courses inspired by the canals of Suzhou and Venice. These serve not only as ever-present reminders of the beauty of water, but also the nature of passage through life as one navigates across the home’s interior and exterior spaces. The alignment of the canals also focuses the building’s orientation toward the views.
The mood of the house is quietly contemporary. The clients sought a quality of architecture that would outlive passing trends. They were also vitally concerned with the home’s sustainability; the architects incorporated many options that contribute to the projects durability and efficiency. Some examples include a green roof, gray water collection system, and solar panels for water heating.
Though the building is geometrically simple, it offers a rich juxtaposition of solidity, transparency, and liquid movement.
Photos: Rob Perry Photography
Vashon Barn Conversion is an eclectic industrial style home that has been designed by Floisand Studio, situated on Vashon Island, Washington. The island retreat was recently converted from a barn/workshop into a new home for chef Leslie Mackie and her family. Leslie is one of the most esteemed figures on the national artisan baking scene, owner of Macrina Bakery & Cafe. Surrounded by orchards and fields, the “barn” features a colorful and open chef’s kitchen bookended by living and dining spaces that look out over the property.
Floisand Studio is a husband and wife owned architecture and interior design firm serving the greater Seattle area. They specialize in the design of new homes, remodels, and additions, restaurants, cafes, retail and other commercial projects.
Photos: Vaagsland Capture
Lake Washington Residence is a newly built two story single family home over an existing foundation by BAAN Design in the Mount Baker neighborhood of Seattle, Washington. The existing site is located on an upland waterfront lot near Genesee Park on Lake Washington Blvd S with expansive views to the east, over the lake. The foundation of the existing one story house is re-used in order to maintain and extend the non-conforming footprint and lot coverage. The geometry of the front facade is dictated primarily by the view potential offered by the site and the massing is stepped back at second level to maintain conformance to current zoning setback requirements.
The primary interior spaces are designed to relate specifically to the water views to the east and to the more intimate and enclosed privacy of the backyard.
The interior living space is comprised of 3,500 square feet.
While sitting in the rear yard, one can experience the lake views through the glazed doors and glass along the east and west sides of living areas. The roof structure is constructed of exposed double 2×6 rafters with T&G decking above, and the exterior is cladded in pre-stained, tight-knot cedar siding.
The windows and doors are thermally broken aluminum, with custom double hinged pivot wood doors located at the front entrance. The floors are polished gypcrete over an in-floor radiant heat system and the built-in cabinetry is dark stained, rift oak.
View of back patio into living room and lake beyond.
Photos: Ben Benschneider
Mercer Island Residence was designed to be an open and functional home by Stuart Silk Architects, located on Mercer Island, Washington. The goal of this project was to turn a house with little or no connection to the outside into an open and functional residence. Originally designed by an engineer who designed office buildings, the house had an introverted presence and grand scale. The owners wanted something contemporary and functional and most importantly, usable.
Our concept was to re-center the house around the central living spaces. We carved out a formal dining room and restructured the stairs to be more efficient and effective in organizing the circulation through the house. Windows replaced glass block and doors that reflect the grand scale of the home become transitions and views from the beautiful views overlooking the yard and the lake. A new kitchen with an open plan transforms the kitchen into the hub of the home that provides the space for gourmet cooking and still be a place for family to gather.
The exterior of the house received architectural upgrades that broke up the massing and scale to be more residential and visually organize the facade. The interior went through a large transformation as rooms were realigned with current needs of the owner. The master suite was enlarged with a new bathroom and a large skylight over the tub to flood the previously dark space with light. Interior finishes, lighting, and updated plumbing turn into well appointed rooms that are refreshingly comfortable and light-filled.
Photos: Alex Hayden
Engawa House is a two story lakefront property that has been designed by Seattle-based studio Sullivan Conard Architects, situated in Seattle, Washington. Here is a description of the project from the architects: “The home can best be understood in its multiple contexts: lakefront site, Pacific Rim city, timber-industry clients open to materials that speak simply but poetically of shelter and home. At its heart is the “light core,” a vessel-like structure rising to a clerestory, illuminating the house and organizing its circulation patterns.”
Timber-framed in hemlock—a reference to the owners’ long involvement with Northwest woods—the light core acknowledges its source in Japanese architecture, also expressed in the structure’s horizontal banks of windows, screening devices of glass and lattice, and the engawa itself, a south-facing veranda edge between interior and garden.
Engawa House’s spare detailing allows materials to speak of themselves, of the art of construction, and of a creative process marked by owner, architect, and craftsmen finding stillness amid the complex demands of house design and construction.
Photos: Benjamin Benschneider
Kuruma House project is a modern remodel by Olson Kundig Architects of an existing house in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, Washington. Bringing light into the 2,230 square foot, three bedroom, three bathroom home and creating a stronger connection to the outdoors were important aspects of the renovation. In addition to extensive skylights, the rear of the house was transformed with the addition of a 10’x10’ custom designed jalousie window, and large sliding and pivoting windows and doors.
The interior of the home was updated to provide a comfortable space to live and work. A simple, dark material palette provides a unified backdrop for elements that carry significant personal connection for the client. Many of the home’s furnishings were custom designed, including a rolling office “kuruma”—a modern interpretation of a traditional wheeled storage chest.
West Seattle Residence is a modern house comprised of concrete, glass, and steel, designed by Lawrence Architecture, situated in the West Seattle district of Seattle, Washington. The 3,800-square-foot house sits on top of a steep hill looking westward with dramatic views of Puget Sound. It’s essentially a loft-like glass curtain wall pavilion that sits on top of an opaque and rectilinear podium next to a similarly massed 925 square foot detached garage. A road runs along the rear of the house on its opaque east side, where the main entry is. Parallel to this road is a tall concrete wall up to twenty-four feet high that shields the house and a side patio for privacy. This wall then extends to the garage and living space unit next door where the client’s parents often stay when they’re visiting, blocking views into the main house’s master bedroom and keeping family at a comfortable distance. “They didn’t want to have to put up blinds,” Lawrence says.
The wall is also the organizing element for the circulation including the stairs with cantilevered steel treads. Supported on steel frames and triangular steel trusses, the roof swoops over the concrete wall capping the pavilion. Eight by sixteen foot sections of the curtain wall pivot for ventilation.
The house’s roof is its most engaging and formal feature. Lawrence describes the arcing shell as “springing over” the house from the rear privacy wall. The garage and loft apartment building has a similar curved roof. Both create a dynamic formal tension with the largely rectilinear buildings below.
An interior and exterior fireplace on the north side connects the house to its patio.
Several wood flourishes warm the inside and outside of the house. Douglas fir is used on the underside of the roof and on the ceiling of the kitchen. The opaque facades of the building are covered in metal panels. Inside, the floors are terrazzo and many of the walls are raw concrete. A steel slab floating stair adds more cool, industrial sophistication.
The house sits on a long, rectilinear podium that contains four bedrooms, a family room, bathrooms, and a media library, occupying the daylight basement level. Upstairs, the main level is an open plan, loft-like living room and kitchen, bathed in light and air through the curtain wall’s operable windows and steel structure. The top level of the house contains the master bedroom and bath. There is additional living space above the garage accessible via stair or future elevator.
The stair has demountable guardrails which are normally in place but were removed for the photographs.
Photos: Benjamin Benschneider
Port Townsend Residence was designed by Lawrence Architecture for a retired couple in their mid 60s who were moving ashore after 30 years of living on a sailboat. The two bedroom home is situated on a heavily-wooded 10 acre site on the Olympic Peninsular near Port Townsend, Washington. Originally containing a grove of deciduous trees, the building site is a clearing within a forest of fir and cedars.
A main cabin with living and cooking spaces and a settee for dining; sleeping quarters for the owners; separate office space; sleeping quarters for the owner’s friends and family, many of whom live outside the United States; an engine room; ample built-ins and lockers for storage including 200 linear feet of shelving; and (finally) a bathroom of their own that isn’t shared by everyone else in a marina. A separate building with 2-car garage, work shop, and an accessory dwelling unit.
Lake House Two is a stunning contemporary waterfront property that has been designed by McClellan Architects and is situated in Seattle, Washington. The home has been programmed as a primary residence, sited on a very steep waterfront lot, with drive access limited to the very top of the site. The client expressed a desire for exposed steel structure and to fully engage in the waterfront landscape. The home is conceived as a single living environment expressing the seeming dichotomy between interior and exterior living spaces pivoting around the central kitchen and hearth. Rather than “bring the outside in,” Lake House brings the inside out.
The dynamic tension between the crafted and the natural is evident throughout: the rhythmic structure of the stacked building masses is articulated by exposed steel beams and columns, repeated and transformed by trees ordering the outdoor living spaces.
The work of master craftsmen in stone, plaster and steel is essential to the natural, competent feeling of the home. A blackened-steel stairway with Scarpa-inspired details is placed against a venetian plaster feature wall. Powerful raking LED light fixtures illuminate the wall in the evening, looking like gold leaf.
An elevator unobtrusively integrated in the back of the home makes the Garage (with solar panels for the client’s electric car), Mother-in-Law apartment, and main living floors all accessible. A green roof provides landscape and view for the upper apartment.
Photos: Ben Benschneider