Creek Tsubo Niwa
Perched upon one of the highest bluffs along Futch Creek, this house was designed for a retired couple with a very active, outdoor lifestyle. She, a retired English teacher, and he, a retired collegiate fine art instructor and fine artist himself, are both nature-lovers, fisherman, gardeners, and avid bird-watchers.
The owners expressed from the onset the desire to design a house that did not “fill up the lot”. It was their understanding that the lot was narrow and deep, and were averse to the typical home designs of the neighborhood that appear as big, tall, blocky structures, that are crammed into their surroundings with no relief.
The building is broken down into as many separate forms as possible. The forms were oriented around a courtyard and rain-garden, and stitched together with covered porches, a screened porch, and a shadow-dappled entry trellis.
The main entry to the cluster of buildings occurs along a trellis flanking the main courtyard, accessed through a large center-pivot door. The artist’s studio and the garage are the first two structures encountered at the entrance, offset to create the main axis of the entry, with views clear through the house to the landscape of the opposite banks of Futch Creek.
The main level of the house, including the artist’s studio and garage is “one-room-wide”, a strategy often employed in our designs to take advantage of cross-ventilation and uniform daylighting. All spaces of the main level are open to either a screened porch, rain-garden/courtyard, central courtyard, trellis, or covered porches so as to promote the outdoor lifestyle the owners desired.
The upper level consists of two modest bedrooms with a shared hall bath, all with views to the creek, employing the same “one-room-wide” strategy for cross ventilation and uniform daylighting. The tower level of the house is designed to maximize the bird-watching pursuits of the owners, rain or shine, with both covered porch and open deck.
Daylighting strategies utilize impact-resistant, non-UV transmitting triple wall polycarbonate clerestory glazing to ensure the lights are never turned on, even on the most overcast of days, and to protect the owner’s fine art from direct sunlight. The artist’s studio makes use of the northern clerestory light favored by painters, while the clerestory light of the main living space opens to the south. Glare often associated with waterfront homes with expansive glazing is eliminated through the use of deep porches and overhead/clerestory daylighting, evenly washing the spaces with light from top to bottom.
The palette of materials is borrowed from vernacular coastal buildings of the region. Rectangular, cedar-shake boxes are capped with galvalume standing seam walls and roofs. White painted trim around glass and porches/trellis complete the simple beach-house aesthetic intended to soften the modern forms and lines of the structure.