Originally occupied by a small run-down cottage, this is an economical, efficient, low-maintenance, modern version of a traditional Seattle home. By delimiting windows along the sides of the house and focusing glass in an east and west direction, the house builds a strong connection to the front and back yards while protecting its occupants from neighboring widely used side yards.

Site

This 40 ‘x 120’ lot on East Capitol Hill is located in a well-traveled artery along the bus line. Initially occupied by a small, run-down cottage, the site is flanked by two multi-unit buildings. First, is to the south of the rental houses that run along the property line with several windows along the facade. The second is in the north, plywood with the entrance yard facing south breaks the original plot by using the easement. The main orientation is eastward toward the tree-lined path of the elevated front yard, from which the ground gently slopes westward towards the flat backyard and the garages and driveways along the alley.

Program

Clients ask for an economical, efficient, low-maintenance, modern version of a traditional Seattle home – one with the main living area on the main floor and three bedrooms above it. Originating from a culture with a courtyard home tradition, clients intend to create a comfortable outdoor space with a strong connection to their interior interior space. The social family chef wants the kitchen to occupy a central and commanding position in the home. As clients use various forms of transport, they want easy access from both the garage behind and from the bus stop in front.

Design

By delimiting windows along the sides of the house and focusing the glazing in an east and west direction, the house builds a strong connection to the front and back yards while protecting its occupants from neighboring widely used side yards. A walled and elevated terrace extending from the sunken living area claims the front yard as an occupable space and protects the fully glazed living room from passers-by.

This terrace and the adjacent front entrance are partially framed by a white wall and ceiling extending from the interior, welcoming and protecting visitors. Corrugated metal wall-coverings and concrete walls are used if privacy is desired, while wooden windows, doors, and upholstery are used at the protected open end where people interact directly with the building’s exterior.

Sustainability

High-performance enclosures are achieved with Advanced Framing (requires up to 30% less wood) and an effective combination of products and insulation methods. The three-pane window protected by aluminum plate ‘shields’ and metal walls creates a low maintenance envelope. A south-facing light monitor with motorized north-facing awning windows creates a stack effect for ventilation while providing ample sunlight. Heating is supplied by high-efficiency boilers, indirect water storage tanks and floor radiators controlled by a programmable thermostat (Nest). With the exception of certain decorative fixtures, LED lighting is used throughout the house.

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