Smith Cottage by Kariouk Associates
Kariouk Associates. Ottawa Gatinuea Design Office. Houses, Cottages, and Interior Renovations

Smith Cottage

Project Information
Project Information
San Juan Island, Washington State
1999 - 2003
Design of a 1,600 sf. vacation home upon a topographically difficult site
Design Challenge & Solution
Design Challenge & Solution

Design Challenge:

The challenge of this project was to provide a modest vacation home for a young couple and their three children that could also comfortably house visits from their extended family. The house is a "home base" for a life that they live largely outdoors. The clients were able to purchase the last lot available on a spectacular ocean-side peninsula, located on an island a two-hour ferry ride from Seattle for very little money because the site was very steep, rocky, and thus initially assumed to be "unbuildable." This vacant site was also not considered desirable as it was separated from the ocean by lots already built upon, hence it did not have immediate access to the water and views.

Design Solution:

These challenges are addressed by constructing the house on an elevated wood platform that is supported on concrete piers ranging in height from three to twelve feet, depending on the topography below. This inexpensive level surface, created as a platform for the living spaces, simultaneously allows the house to become tall enough to now provide views over the homes at the water's edge towards the ocean beyond. While the house has an interior "footprint" of 1,000 sq. ft. and two sleeping loft spaces each 300 sq. ft., the platform for the house is approximately 1600 sq. ft. thus creating outdoor "rooms" at each end of the house. The house sits within an evergreen grove and great care was taken to site the house without unduly disturbing the trees.

To achieve an architectural dialogue with the site, exposed Douglas Fir laminated beams were chosen as the primary structural element. To reduce construction time and budget the house's five glu-lam frames were assembled on the ground and hoisted into place as complete units. The exterior of the house is clad with a variety of cedar shingles while the interior is clad with birch-veneer paneling. A slatted wood surface appears in three different contexts: beneath the house's platform it creates a storage room for canoes and kayaks (see model images); on the main level it creates a privacy screen for the two "outdoor rooms;" rising from the platform it emerges as a tower enclosing an outdoor shower on the main living level and the parents' bathroom adjacent to the parents' second-floor sleeping loft.

Paul duBellet Kariouk and Mabel O. Wilson (Principals) / KW: a

John Sorensen

Structural Engineer:
Simonen Design (Kate Simonen)

Mabel O. Wilson

Doug van den Ham