Situated on a rocky, windswept coastline, facing south. This retirement home is nestled in the landscape, to blend in with its surroundings and minimize exposure to the weather.
The house is a vacation retreat for a family of four, who wanted a low-impact home with strong connections to land and sea.
The design solution uses a simple “wedge” geometry, which mimics the slope of the hillside, and is embedded in a natural depression in the shoreline to lessen its visual impact. The living spaces are fully opened to the north (garden) and south (water) sides through a custom lift-sliding door system.
The bedrooms are primarily focused on the more private wooded hillside to the west, and the kitchen opens onto an adjacent rocky headland to the east. Due to the extreme weather exposure of the site, the main openings are combined with rolling wall panels to protect them from punishing winter storms as well as to provide security when not occupied.
The finishing palette consists of local materials including Douglas Fir (flooring, trim), Western Red Cedar (siding, siding, and ceiling) and Pacific strawberry tree (furniture).
The site is within the San Juan Islands National Monument, with extremely sensitive coasts and marine environment. A clear understanding of coastal ecology had a great impact on the design of the house.
To prevent habitat loss for near-shore insects, a critical food source for endangered Chinook salmon, a garden roof planted with native drought-tolerant vegetation has been used. This set replaces more than 90% of the plant footprint lost by construction.
With shallow soils, disrupting the natural flow of stormwater is also a critical problem. Poorly filtered runoff from roofs and other hard surfaces is a major water quality issue on the islands, so the home drainage design captures runoff along the base of the slope and disperses it into a 1/1 ratio not concentrated right on the side of the structure replicating as closely as possible the pre-construction runoff condition.
Lastly, the company worked to meet the program requirements as efficiently as possible to minimize the structural footprint and mass. The result is a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom home that feels much larger than its modest 1,600-square-foot size suggests. Work of Heliotrope Architects.+
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