Off the grid in Washington, Part 1

Project Type: New Construction
Location: Okanogan County, Washington

The purpose of this project is to explore residential options for land east of the Cascade Mountains just south of the Canadian border in Washington State.

Geography and Climate

The geography as you can see below is low rolling hills with occasional groupings of evergreen trees. This area is fairly high, at about 3,500 feet (1,066 meters).  Although this area gets far less rain than on average for the US, there is significant snow accumulation.  This is a net heating climate, as there are approximately 7,400 heating degree days and 372 cooling degree days per year.   The mountains to the west play a large role in defining the climate.  Mountains in the western United States tend to block cloud formation moving east off of the Pacific Ocean.  Also, the topographical affects during warm months drive the formation of thunderstorms which lead to some precipitation and raise the potential for wildfires.  Cold Canada to the North influences the weather in the winter by partnering up with the Cascade Mountains and funneling cold weather south across this region.

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In our next project, we take a look at a Portland, Oregon home. Specifically we investigate how to bring more natural light into the living room located in the center of this roughly symmetrical 80 year old house.

Base Front
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Living (Stair)Well

Amsterdam01 Project Type: Urban Re-Utilization
Location: Portland, Oregon

Over the last century, the average American home size has ballooned from 900 to over 2400 sq ft. Only in the last couple of years have home sizes started to decrease.  This change in trend is likely due, in part, to the recent economic downturn.  Irrespective of economics, it is important to investigate options to live more densely and within a smaller dwelling.  Its not a stretch to assume that in most places smaller spaces is associated with personal financial failure but in places such as Tokyo and Amsterdam this notion does not necessarily hold true.  Some of the highest rent districts in these cities contain some of the smallest dwellings.  This does not just mean building smaller homes in the future, but looking for creative opportunities to incorporate the re-use of our already-built environment contained within an existing infrastructure.  This is true sustainability.

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Urban Infill Small House

Project Type: Residential New Construction
Location: NW United States

The design challenge was to come up with ideas for a simple, energy efficient home on an urban infill site.


The site lies just outside the downtown core of a northwest US city.  The site is 40 x 100 feet, long axis of the site east-west.  The rear of the site has alley access.  Any concept would only need to allow space for a two car garage with alley access however would not have to include the garage in the design.  The main street runs north south on the west side of the property.

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