The CLTHouse is a modest, 1,500 sf single-family house for four in Seattle. The project was driven by the different parameters of a small,triangular lot, the need for a light-filled, Urban Cabin and the desire for heritage Pacific Northwest materials. Cross-laminated timber (CLT), commonplace in Europe but emerging building material in the US, was a natural choice to fulfill these requirements. The house experiments with this new tectonic, is the first in Seattle and one of the first structures in the country to utilize Cross-laminated timber.
With increasing urban densification, fragments of sites remain, awkward refugees of history. Triangular, facing an industrial alley and parking lot, the site was once submerged underwater, under the urban lake, and then crafted into development conditions as a result of 20th century marine infrastructure work. A resultant of these pressures, the site’s raw geometry demanded a three-dimensional spatial and intensely interior response, as a respite from these hostile urban conditions. Experienced as a new Northwest beach cabin, the simple blunt massing of the house reflects the directness of these cabins. The dark exterior wood skin is wrapped around the light wood interior walls, opened and revealing an orthogonal court, white and raw, with both ornamental and spatial softness, recalling Siza’s ‘broken rectangles’ of his early urban houses. Interior spatial sequences recall complexities of Loos’ Raumplan at Villa Mueller, or Josef Frank’s beach houses, where dynamic views are carefully screened, then revealed, upwards and outwards around the core to a roof deck, overlooking the lake. The structural use of CLT, rawly revealed on the interior, creates a visceral, natural, yet constructed experience: the hypernatural.
While sensually immersive, the materiality of the house is not a sentimental experience. Performatively, the CLT is a constructed material, industrially cut, pressed, programmed and cut again with digital computer tools. Ecologically, its high carbon sequestration capacity, plays a role in transforming perceptions of complex ecosystems of forest and in opening dialogues between timber and environmental stewards. CLTHouse
used approximately 20 CSFI harvested regional trees for construction. The owner’s family planted 20 additional trees creating the equivalent of 0.25 acre of trees for long term carbon sequestration. Achieving a Built Green 5-star rating, using PassivHaus detailing, targeting 38% lower energy use than Washington State Energy Code, the house was a research vehicle for the fi rm and is being openly shared with a broad interdisciplinary CLT community across the US.
- Honorable Mention
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