Grasshopper Courtyard Studio by Wittman Estes

Grasshopper Courtyard Studio by Wittman Estes

Project: Grasshopper Courtyard Studio
Architecture: Wittman Estes (Matt Wittman and Jody Estes)
Construction: Greg Winger Construction, Western Sound Concrete Works
Location: Seattle, Washington, United States
Photography: Nic Lehoux
Photos and text provided by Wittman Estes

The Seattle housing shortage has increased pressure on single family neighborhoods to provide more usable space on limited single family lots. Normative new housing demolishes existing small buildings and replaces them with ‘Seattle Modern Boxes’ that maximize building size and density within zoning setbacks.

Grasshopper Courtyard Studio by Wittman Estes

Grasshopper Courtyard Studio offers an alternative density called courtyard urbanism. Maintaining the small footprint of a 1940s house (the lot is 4,500 square feet), a multifunctional 360-square-foot studio was added along the rear alley. The resulting interstitial space formed a private terrace open to the sky. This courtyard urbanism tripled the usable square footage of the site by blurring the lines between indoor and outdoor space. A central silk tree provides dappled shade in summer. The illusion of a much larger property is created through ‘borrowed landscape’ from adjacent trees and sky above.

Grasshopper Courtyard Studio by Wittman Estes

Inspired by ancient Chinese south facing courtyard housing, the central paved terrace is a protected private area for dining, entertaining, lounging and year-round play. The wide covered walkway to the north sometime becomes informal seating, at other times a stage for children’s performances. The open plan studio is programmatically indeterminate to encourage maximum flexibility. Future uses include visiting guests, short term rental space, utility/workshop space, and play space for the main house. A pavilion roof, floating over volumes that house storage, bathroom, laundry, and future kitchen, extends to form a carport and outdoor workshop space. The north side of the studio is a library and lounge, with shelving built of repurposed MDF tabletops and plywood. The bathroom is built with outdoor materials of cedar and ipe that can get wet and weather naturally. The open-slat wood floor drains below, and clerestory windows allow natural light through the studio and into the courtyard.

Grasshopper Courtyard Studio by Wittman Estes

The interstitial zones between the studio and outdoors are defined by masonry walls, wood decks, and are protected from the weather by large pavilion roofs. A boundary wall of constructed and landscape elements screen the adjacent neighbors, creating a private oasis in a dense single family neighborhood. A concrete block wall retains the grade change and screens the alley from view. The studio is a boundary in itself, filtering alley views while light streams through the clerestory.

Grasshopper Courtyard Studio by Wittman Estes

The little studio is adaptable to a multiplicity of uses and family arrangements. The flexibility of a small building footprint and large private outdoor space maximizes and integrates the use of the entire property. As a response to urban resource scarcity, it encourages rethinking the arrangement of the single-family lot and offers Seattle an alternative density for the future.

outdoor, Wittman EstesThe carport, located off the back alley, has gates built of reclaimed fir that match the studio’s wood screens. Steel columns, long wood beams and rafters were salvaged and repurposed from a nearby 1960s church carport. The pavilion-style roof provides a covered carport and work area for indoor/outdoor projects and opens onto the alley.

bathroom, Wittman Estes

planlibrary, Wittman Estes

Grasshopper Courtyard Studio by Wittman Estes

Grasshopper Courtyard Studio by Wittman Estes

terrace by Wittman Estes

Grasshopper Courtyard Studio by Wittman Estes

blank

Newsletter HomeWorldDesign

To be updated with all the latest projects

Most Recent

Most Popular

Concrete Chilean Residence Adorning a Steep Slope Bahia Azul House 17

Chilean Concrete Residence Adorning a Steep Slope: Bahia Azul House

This Chilean concrete residence is a stance towards designing on a slope. Or rather, it is the synthesis of such a stance, a pavilion that is slanted to take in the slope of the hillside where it is located, with the program developed on several semi-levels that are internally related ...
Gibert Kivett Residence by Corsini Stark Architects 14

Gibert Kivett Residence: Renovation and Addition by Corsini Stark Architects

The corner lot at the base of San Jacinto Mountain in the Vista Las Palmas tract in Palm Springs included an altered mid-century residence originally designed by Charles Dubois with a simple, gabled roof originally in the ‘Atomic Ranch’ style and sweeping mountain views to the west and south.
This Cranberry Isles House is a Modern Interpretation of the Traditional New England Farm

This Cranberry Isles House is a Modern Interpretation of the Traditional New England Farm

Located on a small island off the coast of Maine, this project began as a renovation. Initially, our clients hoped that an existing building on their property could be rehabilitated: a structure that accompanied the 100 year old farmhouse that has been their summer home for close to 40 years.
S5 House by Raz Melamed Architect

S5 House by Raz Melamed Architect

The S5 house was designed for a refined couple and their 3 children, who came to the project equipped with knowledge about innovations and construction technologies
House of S. Bartolomeu by Sónia Cruz Arquitectura

Bartolomeu House by Sónia Cruz Arquitectura

Project: S. Bartolomeu House Architecture: Sónia Cruz Arquitectura Location: Aveiro, Portugal Total area: 250 Year 2020 Photo Credits: Ivo Tavares Studio S. Bartolomeu house is located in a central area...

More Articles Like This