American firm Hoedemaker Pfeiffer used stone, wood and glass to create a main dwelling and guest house for a steep, forested site in the Pacific Northwest overlooking the ocean.
Hillside Sanctuary is located on a remote site in the San Juan Islands, which lie just off the coast of northern Washington .
Seattle firm Hoedemaker Pfeiffer was charged with creating a cosy, waterfront refuge that would consist of a primary dwelling and a detached guest house.
The architects were presented an unusual request. Decades earlier, the client had lost a home to fire in the Appalachian Region in the eastern US. The client asked the firm “not to recreate that home, but rather to give its spirit new form in the Pacific Northwest”.
The team conceived a series of stone-clad volumes that blend with the forested terrain. Both dwellings are oriented to provide expansive vistas of the Puget Sound.
The main dwelling is nestled into a gentle slope. The two-storey building consists of a stone base topped with a more transparent upper level.
On the south, ample glazing ushers in natural light while providing views outward. A simple, shed roof tips downward on this side, protecting the interior from the summer sun and offering space for a future photovoltaic array.
The north elevation, which faces a gravel driveway and road, is more opaque. A log store was incorporated into the facade, enabling quick access to fuel for a wood-burning stove.
Within the home, the top level serves as the primary living space, with a staircase separating the public and private realms. One side is occupied by a master suite, while the other encompasses an open-plan kitchen, dining area and living room. The lower level contains a bedroom, den, workshop and storage space for kayaks.
The public area features the wood stove, which is set within a stone wall that mimics the exterior cladding. Stone wraps other walls within the home, helping draw a connection to the natural setting. Rooms are fitted with eclectic decor and earthy materials, including various types of wood.
Both the great room and master suite connect to a spacious deck that looks toward the water. This elevated terrace is lined with thin metal railings – an unobtrusive boundary between the house and the trees.
A pathway connects the main dwelling to the guest house. Due to its siting on a steep slope, this building proved to be more technically challenging. Using a similar vocabulary as the primary home, the team conceived a “stone tower” topped with a shed roof.
Cantilevering off the west side of the building is a glazed, rectilinear volume wrapped in wooden slats. The little box, which contains a dining room, provides occupants with a feeling of floating in the forest.
“Two steel beams carry its entire weight and extend deep into the floor system,” the studio said.
“To enhance the concept, our team preserved trees only a few feet from the dining room by developing custom retaining walls capable of avoiding critical root zones.”
Protruding from the east facade is another boxy volume, this one housing a stairwell. In the rear of the guest house, a balcony is suspended high above the site and gestures toward the water.
Visitors enter through a full-height, glazed aperture cut into the north elevation. An open-plan kitchen and living room merge with the elevated deck. The stairs lead down to three bedrooms on the lower level.
“The stair, comprised of a concrete base below large casement windows, allows natural light to fill the main stairway as it leads guests toward the bedrooms,” the studio added.
Like the main home, the interior of the guest house features tactile materials like wood, leather and stone. Windows provide generous views of the forest and water, helping occupants feel a strong connection to the natural landscape.
Hoedemaker Pfeiffer is the continuation of a practice established in 1965. The firm has an extensive portfolio of projects in beautiful natural settings, including a modest boathouse along the Hood Canal , a waterway that connects to the Puget Sound. The building’s giant sliding doors allow occupants to take in the sunrise and sunset.
Photography is by Kevin Scott .
Architecture: Hoedemaker Pfeiffer
Contractor: Schuchart Dow
Landscape architect: Randy Allworth, Allworth Design
Structural engineer: Malsam Tsang
Civil engineer: LPD Engineering
Geotechnical engineer: Nelson Geotechnical Associates, Inc
Arborist: Island Tree Doctor
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