The design brief called for a very low-impact, easy to maintain summer home that provides necessary programmatic functions with minimum distractions from the land and the view. Minimization of ecological impacts, sustainability, durability and longevity were all considered critical elements of the program.
The home is just over 2,000sf and includes a primary residence and two guest suites accessed from the deck outside. It functions as a summer home and is not intended to be regularly occupied in winter months. It is located on a northwesterly oriented beach fronting the Strait of Georgia, on a site that includes many second-growth douglas firs, a beech grove and a grassy meadow with good solar exposure. For over a thousand years this site was a winter camp location for the Lummi Indians, and due to its archeological significance no footing excavation could take place on the site. Further, its location in a federally designated flood plain required that the structure be raised off the ground several feet.
The design response situates the structure among the trees directly between the beach and the meadow, with walls of glass opening out to both (no trees were removed). Steel columns minimize visible structure from the interior, while metal-clad wall elements provide a bold form when seen from the exterior. A matt-slab, poured right over the grass, was utilized to avoid excavation - and the foundation recessed to minimize the footprint. The resulting ‘floating’ form both literally and figuratively respond to the client’s desire for the project to be light on the land.
The combination of the matt-slab on grade and a minimized footprint provide for a minimal disturbance of existing groundwater flow, which is critical in a near-shore habitat. The roof is vegetated, which also reduces storm-water runoff, as well as providing habitat for insects that are a critical food-source for juvenile salmon. Roof runoff is collected and stored in two 5,000 gallon tanks for use in irrigation – thus reducing potable water use. Further, the home is piped to utilize this water for flushing toilets. Potable hot water and hydronic heating are aided by solar collectors on the roof, and PV panel s above the vegetable garden provide supplemental electricity. The home is intended for occupancy from May through October, and it is estimated that these solar systems may result in ‘net zero’ electricity use over the course of a full year.