Located on a rain-drenched site in the rugged, north-western foothills of the Cascade Mountains, this modest, sustainable building has a big presence in a big landscape. Surrounded by dramatic, mountain peaks, the site slopes to the east and overlooks a large woodlot. Our clients wanted a building that had presence in and subservience to the wild landscape. This duality became the thematic tag that informed the design.
In order to preserve the rugged landscape, we limited the building’s footprint to a 30’ by 100’ rectangle. Two buildings are juxtaposed within this footprint in a ying/yang fashion, leaving a sinuous exterior space that is defensible and varied. The western terrace is carved into the site, stepping down into the earth, leading to a soaking tub set behind a glass wall. The south-eastern porch and monumental stair, both covered by a soaring roof, rise above the site, offering shelter from the rain and summer sun. Both spaces meet in an interstitial “rain garden” – a place where seasonal rains gather and flow toward the river below.
The building is designed to be seasonally expansive – generous in summer when livability expands outside onto the porches and terraces, modest and efficient in winter. The 890 SF cabin houses a great room, bath and sleeping loft clad in frameless glass. All rooms open toward distant views of the mountains.
The 1000 SF studio houses a music room, workshop and guest loft. The west wall is clad in a polycarbonate skin, bathing the interiors in sunlight during the day, and the exterior terrace in a dramatic display of light at night. Building forms are angular and elemental, not unlike the surrounding mountain peaks. The result is a dramatic building, deceptively simple, deeply rooted in the site and unexpectedly crisp and modern.
Sustainable features include geothermal heat, plantation-sourced wood, super insulation, and passive solar. The cabin’s shell was built by a local contractor and finished by the client on a tight budget over several years. The cabin’s name comes from a particularly memorable experience he had during construction.
Location: Marblemount, Washington, USA
Type: Residential – Houses
Building Area: 1900 SF
Architects: David Coleman Architecture
Design Team: David Coleman, Dan Payson, Trevor Dykstra
Owner/Client: Mark Malone, Joan Declaire
Photographs: Ben Benschneider