Four Stacked Boxes Defining Modern Family House in San Juan Island

Four Stacked Boxes Defining Modern Family House in San Juan Island

Architects: Prentiss Balance Wickline Architects
Project: San Juan House
Location: San Juan Island, Washington, United States
Area 3612 SF
Photography: Eirik Johnson

From the architect: Anchored to a rocky slope and looking out over expansive water views, this house is the expression of the clients’ desire to connect to both the immediate landscape and the view beyond. Cascading organically down the hill, the house remains firmly rooted to the earth even as it rises high above the ground. It is a complex form with a simple goal: capturing the beauty of this spectacular site.

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Stacked boxes that end in large lift-slide doors direct each interior to specific views. Clusters of smaller horizontal lites perforate the walls to let in natural light and glimpses of local terrain. The volumes shift upslope as they rise, creating grass-roof patios accessible from each story. Sparse tree cover opens each view outward over the water, south toward Port Angeles, and southwest to Victoria and Port Townsend.

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The main volume contains an open living, dining, and kitchen space, airy and full of sunlight, with a wood-burning stove for cold nights. A reading room in a nook to the side is formed by walls of bookcases, which flow seamlessly out of the smaller scattered window pattern. A bath, storage, and office toward the back complete the ground floor. The master suite is tucked into the privacy of the basement level, dug into the slope. A guest suite occupies the volume of the second level, while an open art studio space tops the stack.

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