Off the Grid in Washington, Part 2

Project Type: New Construction
Location: Okanogan County, Washington

This is a continuation of Part 1, seen here.

Here’s a refresher of the site conditions: Net heating climate, located near the Canadian border in Washington.  Cascade mountains to the west, pond with significant wildlife activity on the south side of the site.

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The goal is to create a living space that is independent of municipal utilities.  We took a look at a butterfly roof in the previous concept to daylight the space and for rain collection.  However, due to the prevalence of snow throughout the winter months and the need to provide a large south facing roof surface area for a photovoltaic panel array, a pitched roof is considered in this option.  The traditional form of an American barn with a steep gable roof is ideal for this purpose so we decided to test it.

Concept 1 took a look at two building masses-one occupied by the owner and the other satisfying kind of a bed and breakfast function.  For Concept 2 we take a look just at 1 massing, minus the bed and breakfast function to consider a phased construction approach.

In concept 1, we took a look at placing the sleeping rooms/restroom in a central unit whose edges are utilized for storage and the fireplace.  The downside to this layout is that the plan becomes disjointed and inefficient.  So here we look at placing sleeping rooms/restroom along an edge of the building to allow for an open common space running the length of the house.

We busted a few moves in the building section adapting a very traditional residential section to the site.  Take a look at the diagram below:


Plan layout below.  A simple, efficient rectangle with perimeter walls constructed out of concrete masonry units.  Two loft spaces provided.


Here’s a rendering of the entry from the north side  An overhang has been provided over  paved areas to provide protection from the elements.  The house would be approached from this side, either on foot or by vehicle.  The large overhang seen below on the west side of the building provides protection from the elements, provides shade in the warm summer months, is visually expressive of the entry, and will act as the link to phase 2.


Ext06Base01_With Labels



Here isSection04_Labeled a building section across the short dimension of the house:


The view upon entering…


Peeking around the corner, we see the inclusion of the kitchen.


Now with labels:

Idea01_Interior10_3 BW_Labeled

Here’s a long section through the house:


View from Dining:


View back from Kitchen:


Office Loft:


View down from Sleeping Loft:


Now let’s take a further look around outside.  Here’s the South side of the house:


Opposite corner:


Now labeled:


First floor doors and windows shuttered during unoccupied periods of time:


And back around to the North side:




2 Replies to “Off the Grid in Washington, Part 2”

  1. This project has turned in a very dynamic direction! On the whole, I like what I see from the perspective of the evolution and exploration of a concept. It is beginning to answer more questions and intelligently solve some of it’s particular challenges. A few thoughts merely from first glances and not from much study. How do you feel about how the building is siting in the landscape? I know their was talk of lifting the building up with the first pass, but now with roof/wall heights I am wondering how it might look to sink the whole building 3′ (or so) into the ground. Of course, all kinds of unknowns here with soil types, etc but I am just calling them like I see them. I really like the way the interiors are coming…this one is going to take me more time to study! Very coincidentally, I just recently signed on for 2 simple 600 sq. ft. rectilinear strawbale houses with lofts sharing a small lot in downtown Phoenix, AZ and was thinking of your project and, at least conceptually, some of the similarities…and the very obvious difference in site and climate. I would love to know how the client received this version. Great work!

    1. Himat,
      Thanks for your post.
      Re: the building siting in the landscape- Geotechnical data would be informative in determining how the building would meet the earth. Discussions have moved in the direction of establishing a plan where the building materials will supplied to the immediate site without the use of vehicles so as to minimize damaging the surrounding natural environment. This will certainly influence how the building sits on the site, how the structure is erected and materiality choices. The client appears to like the direction in which this has gone. We’ll work to tweak the concept with the client. Next, just as an exercise, we’re going to look at a vertical assembly of shipping containers to respond to the original mixed-use concept of bed and breakfast/residence.
      Interested to hear more about your project in Phoenix. Curious-do you imagine any issues with acquiring permits with strawbale being the material of choice?
      By the way, the footprint of this concept is 600 sq ft too.

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