This is a modest, sustainable building with a big presence in a big landscape.
The Hill House is composed of a 20’ wide x 115’ long stepped platform, a shelter formed by the roof and east wall, and several gabion stone walls. It is sited on a long, narrow, rocky hillside, sloping gently to the south and steeply to the east and west. The building reads and lives like a habitable landscape, adapting to the changing seasons and needs of its occupants.
A light-framed, wood platform steps up the hillside and floats above it. Interior and exterior functions are delineated by a glass wall that wraps three sides of the structure. Finish materials are common throughout, blurring the line between inside and out. The result is a seasonally expansive structure, generous in summer (2200 SF), modest and efficient in winter (1100 SF).
The east wall cuts into the land like a rusty blade, evoking the cultural history of the mining encampments found nearby and providing privacy from the road. It offers a defensive backdrop when viewed from the interior and, when combined with the sheltering roof and warm fire, lends a primordial feel that is unexpected in this thoroughly modern structure.
Gabion stone walls, made from the excavation spoils to reduce waste, bridge between building and landscape, providing retaining, context and privacy. Sustainable materials, technologies and techniques are used throughout, including recycled steel, sustainably harvested wood, BIBS insulation in oversized wall and ceiling cavities, on-demand hot water, low-flow fixtures and convection heat. Fenestration is designed to encourage passive solar radiation in winter. In summer, natural ventilation, large overhangs and seasonally-deployed, exterior-mounted sun shades (made from fabric used to shield fruit trees on nearby orchards) protect the glass from summer sun.
Location: Winthrop, Washington, USA
Architect: David Coleman Architecture
Structural Engineer: Gary Gill
Landscape Architect: Bruce Hinckley
Construction Consultant: Brian Dobler
Heated Area: 1,100 sqft
Outdoor Living Area: 1,100 sqft
Photographer: Lara Swimmer