The existing house was built in the late 1970’s in the Northwest Style. Located in Oregon City, it overlooks the Historic McLaughlin Neighborhood, the Willamette River, and downtown Portland. The inherited situation was a collection of small, compartmentalized rooms with limited connection to the immediate site and surrounding views.
Through a series of subtractions, the plan was defragmented and four new primary spaces for the house were established— an entry, a living area, a dining area, and a kitchen. Absorbed into these four spaces were the entry porch and the deck- which were explicitly understood from the onset as existing rooms. New exterior openings (many of which are full height sliding windows) reinforce this reading and establish a surprisingly fluid relationship between the interior and exterior despite limited alterations to the perimeter. In concert, long view corridors and a richly layered organization were achieved by selectively removing interior walls and columns.
The additive components in the project read as distinct interventions. They include a new brick fireplace and hearth, an operable bookcase, an open stair, and a stainless steel kitchen block. These additions serve as bold and open-ended players on the (now more open) main floor and play important roles (both visually and pragmatically) in the newly defined zones of the house.
The formal strategies we explored sought to address the existing compartmentalization without a wholesale erasure of the idiosyncrasies of the given condition. We discovered that by accepting much of the original structure, these new programmatic zones could exist in a looser, more independent fashion from the spatial volumes. This approach offered a diversity of character (in terms of room dimensions and ceiling heights) and provided larger areas that would allow for a maximum number of possibilities and uses. While much of the new work does the obvious task of improving light and views, connections with the surrounding landscape, and so on, the project was especially interested in the potentials of defragmenting the house in a way that moved beyond simply cleaning-up.
Location: Oregon City, Ore.
Team: Landry Smith, Daniel Kendra
Structural engineer: Munzing Structural Engineering
Program: house renovation
Area: 1,500 sq ft