SHED Architecture recently designed a new net-zero house in Seattle. Maintaining a compact footprint, this home was designed to maximize efficiency, privacy, and greenery.
Despite the restrained size, SHED was able to incorporate an open-plan kitchen, living and dining area, a flex room to be used as an office or guest room, two bathrooms (master and guest), and a garage ample enough for an electric vehicle, bike storage, and trash room. The program is stacked, with the living, kitchen, and dining area over the flex room, facing toward the street, and master suite over the garage, facing the alley. An idea offered by the client was the Japanese concept of ‘Shibui,’ referring to a particularly restrained, simple, and unobtrusive aesthetic-SHED followed this vision by creating a refined, elemental, minimal home, with elegance but few superfluous touches.
The home was set back from the street to preserve a cherry tree and to create a sense of privacy and distance from the public realm. Concrete site walls cut through the raised yard at the street, anchoring the house in the lot, and defining the entry sequence by guiding to the front door, where the wall continues into the stair-the outside is brought in at the entry. That design impetus is echoed in the lower floor plan the elevation creates, allowing the base level to meet the alley at grade for car and bike access.
Privacy guided the location of interior spaces, developing the idea of controlled, diagonal views from inside the house to the outside. This is exemplified by the sliding doors located in the main space, on either side of a wall that blocks the view of the neighbor’s house to the south. From inside, one looks diagonally SE and SW over the yard to the street or alley, visually directed to serene landscape and trees rather than adjacent buildings. The project has a strong roof form, both to accommodate a large PV array and to protect against the elements. Though the home opens fully on the upper level to the west deck through large patio sliders, it is well protected below the large roof overhangs.
Creating a robust and restrained net-zero home anchored to the street and alley, the design simultaneously creates a place that feels voluminous and private, open to surrounding greenery and amenable to quiet reflection. A noteworthy environmental element is the use of a non-infiltrating bio-retention tank to collect rain and stormwater, filter it, and then apply it to the landscaping.
Photography: Rafael Soldi