House on the Cove, Bellingham, Washington. Stephenson Design Collective.
“This project is a study of environment and experience. The home itself is secondary. With views to the west that are uninterrupted Puget Sound, San Juan Islands and Olympic Mountain Range, the experience exists regardless of the home. We had to maintain this environment with minimal intrusion when adding the structure. It is hard to discount the fact that we had a great opportunity to destroy this site if we weren’t considerate and thoughtful.
The initial site meeting consisted of experiencing late afternoon turn into evening with drinks, dogs and music. These three experiences were of great consideration through design, construction and now, residence. The client requested that I watch the movie “Minka” and listen to Marc Cohen’s “Olanna” before beginning the process. He needed his home to spark the same emotions that these pieces inspire. We continued the design process as a discussion of experience and interaction. We never established a ‘goal’ square footage or size, only what needed to happen within the home and how it would take place.
The studio is separate from the home as it serves as an isolated music experience that should not disturb the main home. Guest can also enjoy their own space. The owner requested a small metal fabrication shop on the west side of the garage, toward the view. As a blacksmith by trade, this shop would be his escape to create without demand.
The entry façade of the home reveals little of the interior and the view. Natural Steel and black stained cedar were chosen to blend with the landscape, placing windows only as needed for light and connection with the neighborhood. The studio and main house separate (and overlap based on approach) to create a framed hint of the view experience once you enter the home. The house is a shadow among the trees.
Sustainability is important to the clients. Not only in operation, but in longevity of the product. The house is heated with radiant concrete floors that also serve as thermal mass to collect the cooler air off the sound during the summer nights. Zola Windows were chosen based on their performance and located for natural light and proper cross-ventilation. We knew the house would be bright, so we created a ‘nest’ behind the main bedroom that could be completely closed and dark for refuge in the heat of the summer. The fireplace pipes warm air throughout the home for instant heat.”
Photo credit: Andrew Pogue