Toandos Penninsula - 2010
The house is perched on a waterfront bluff, on a terrace of land that slopes down toward the water on the south side, and down to a ravine on the west side facing the Olympic Mountain Range. The structures are nestled into their surroundings, at times below grade, resulting in a deep connection to the earth and landscape, and a blurring of inside and outside spaces.
The client came to us wanting two very different things. He wanted a traditional house that recalled the homes of his childhood – big, elegant structures with heavy wood elements, stone foundations and fireplaces. She wanted seamless connections between inside and outside, as well as among all communal spaces. Both of them wanted a house that was cozy for the two of them as well as accommodate their extended family and friends.
The result is a house that celebrates, and connects deeply to, the landscape. Both house and landscape are organized around a series of parallel, board-formed concrete walls that retain earth as well as define, and organize movement through and around, indoor and outdoor spaces. The walls lace like fingers back into the soil, creating a series of horizontal and vertical planes. They create a series of liminal thresholds through which one passes while moving from the outside world of the city to total immersion in the country.
Heavy timbers and stone, as well as heavy stone fireplaces, play against the more modern concrete floors and walls. Interiors take cues from the site – the dark wood of trees, the weathered wood of driftwood, and an understated natural palette are complemented with abundant skylights to bring in natural light. A long hallway creates a spine bisecting the house on an east/west axis. Here, skylights wash light into several niches in the hallway where art work and the natural beauty of the wall are featured. They also wash light down the front and back sides of the main fireplace, beautifully highlighting the stone work.
The earth is literally brought in tight to spaces all around the house as well as up and over the roof. As the landscaping matures one will arrive at a ‘place’ rather than at a house. Slipping under the trellis and into the front courtyard, you are already in one of the rooms of the house. Over time, the concrete walls will be covered with vines. A fireplace in the exterior courtyard makes for a retreat from the wind and extends the potential number of days enjoyed outdoors.