Project: Portage Bay House
Architects: Heliotrope Architects
Contractor: ESMB, Inc.
Architectural metals: Company K + Decorative Metal Arts
Landscape: Jonathan Morley of the Berger Partnership
Furnishings: Inform Interiors
Location: Seattle, Washington, USA
Building area: 2500 sf
Photographer: Aaron Leitz
Courtesy of Heliotrope Architects
Tucked into a small city lot along the water’s edge, the Portage Bay house was designed to live like a studio loft for a bachelor who values privacy, a central location to reside in the city, and a convenient spot to park the float plane. Hidden from the street, the building is a protective shell of zinc and aluminum – a refined version of the maritime industrial sheds found throughout the waterfronts of Seattle. Water-side, the house becomes more transparent, with prospect-views over the houseboats of Portage Bay, the University of Washington, and the Cascade Mountains. Living, cooking, and sleeping all occur in one volume distributed over two floor levels, sized and shaped to envelope the occupant in a protective refuge. The kitchen is small and streamlined with equipment paired down to the essentials. Bathing happens in a below-grade spa or a master bath with a Japanese style hinoki tub overlooking the lake. An interior palette of cedar, walnut, flagstone, blackened steel and marble stands in contrast to the machine-like character of the exterior. Site constraints, and the modest needs of a bachelor, generated a one-bedroom residence smaller in size and lower in height than the house it replaced.