Project: One-Story 1945 Cottage Renovation
Architecture: Beebe Skidmore Architects
Architect team: Doug Skidmore, Heidi Beebe, Pooja Dalal
General contractor: Owen Gabbert LLC
Structural engineer: Structural Edge
Builder: Owen Gabbert
Location: Portland, Oregon, United States
Photo Credits: Jeremy Bittermann
Text by Beebe Skidmore
“House on 36th” rewrites an existing one-story 1945 cottage in Portland, Oregon. The project strategically salvages, edits, and then envelops the existing foundation and framing, cantilevering forward toward the street and extending back into the yard. The result is an interconnected two-story interior that is both voluminous and compact.
The program meets the needs of a young family relocating to Portland from New York, seeking a walkable neighborhood, an extensive yard, an efficient floor plan, and an easy flow between inside and out. They asked for simple, compact rooms, a clean gallery-like feeling with minimal space for storage. They also desired a high degree of interior connectivity between spaces, both visual and acoustic, and an open kitchen.
The project transforms an ordinary house into a comfortable contemporary house that is welcomed into the neighborhood and suitable for a family that spends much of the day at home. The livable area of the existing house is substantially increased without excessively encroaching into the oversized backyard or adding bulk to the massing that would seem out of scale relative to neighboring houses.
The sculptural form of the house riffs on the traditional North American garrison, or second- story overhang saltbox, cantilevering the second floor 8 feet out of plane from the existing facade. This design move, executed by bolting laminated veneer lumber beams to the outside of the existing house, forms a deep, weather-protected entry stoop, and provides a buffered location for floor-to-ceiling glass on the first floor, and cozy reading nooks perched above. Symmetrical, wall-eyed dormers with big picture windows upend the centralized compositions that usually result from zoning regulations for single family houses sited on standard 50 foot wide lots.