When two Seattle-based outdoor enthusiasts explored the Methow Valley, they knew they must put down roots. But without building their permanent home just yet, how could they accommodate all their outdoor gear and provide shelter for themselves during their visits to the Methow? With a restricted budget, the team set out to create a space that would contain all of their climbing equipment, paddleboards, kayaks, skis, and bikes, while also providing a place to sleep, cook, and shower. The solution is a lofted, shed-inspired structure with a tiny footprint: Gear Loft.
This is one of three buildings designed for this property: a carport to provide shelter from weather, a shed to securely store their gear, and eventually, a residence to anchor the homestead. First, the entire site was analyzed for views, wind, and sun exposure. The team then identified how each component responded to and informed the others. The clients’ outdoor gear was cataloged and measured to inform storage requirements, creating solutions to simplify bringing the gear in and out of storage while framing views of its surroundings. An oversized garage door offers floor-to-ceiling views and rolls up to easily load equipment. Windows are placed at eye-level, framing the landscape. Stacked openings give through-line views and provide a cross breeze on warm afternoons. A central wood burning stove warms the space in winter.
Exploration drives the project, from its garage door “windows” to the climbing grip “handrails” along the ships ladder to the loft. A sofa tucks under a wall of paddle boards and kayaks. Most of the cooking occurs outdoors, but the indoor kitchenette offers convenience. Casework stores climbing gear, shoes, and ski boots while specialized equipment clips hold larger gear off the floor. A built-in counter doubles as a ski waxing bench. From every vantage point, the Cascade Sawtooths dominate the view.
The sustainability of Gear Loft is its compact footprint and low energy usage. It lives large but consumes little. Materials are unsophisticated and accessible: concrete, plywood, glulam, and steel. Many of these can be reused, include recycled content, or are recyclable. The wood stove and vaulted ceiling make it easy to heat in winter, while the concrete floor and operable openings provide passive cooling in warmer months.