Program: A 2000 square foot vacation retreat located on a 15 acre wooded site littered with glacial ledge in Washington’s San Juan islands to accommodate two sisters and their spouses. Design: Our clients had long envisioned developing a cluster of buildings on the site, carefully sited to preserve the rugged, natural landscape.
In keeping with this vision, we endeavored to create a modern rendition of the “summer camp,” complete with sleeping pavilions, a great room and covered porches, all inspired by the platform tents and national park lodges of the late 19th century.
A sixty-foot long, glass-enclosed, timber framed porch – containing the entry foyer, a sitting area, and a study – gives order to the site and connects the three pavilions, satisfying the program while providing shelter from the elements.
Its’ form and detail are a study in simplicity: built-in, covered benches wrap the entire exterior perimeter; window glazing extends up to the underside of the flat roof; corners are cantilevered to float like the branches of the trees.
The pavilions are set atop concrete bases, each claiming it’s own position on the site relative to one another and oriented towards specific views and features in the landscape. Two of the pavilions contain bedroom suites, complete with entry halls, bathrooms, numerous built-ins, and wardrobe cases on wheels for flexibility.
The third houses the great-room, complete with kitchen, dining and living areas. Eleven-foot wide barn doors allow the great room to be closed off from the porch, giving privacy and adaptability when needed. A two-sided Mumford fireplace, constructed of ground face concrete and red brick, marks the center of the room.
The buildings are carefully sited within the glacial field to create natural outdoor spaces and to preserve existing landscape features.
Many of the landscape materials used were harvested locally, and stone stairs mitigate between the built and natural environments.The design underscores a sympathetic adaptation to the natural features of the site and creates a strong sense of place within an expression of modern aesthetic and functional ideals.
The building retains a sense of history in its’ formal makeup, yet diverges significantly organizationally and tectonically. The overall composition, siting and detailing contain both the solidity of the natural ledge found on the site and the lightness of the adjacent pine forest.
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