No. 156 . 30 July 2003 
ArchitectureWeek
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Bluff House

by Oscar Riera Ojeda

Since the mid-1960s, the firm Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects has created a series of houses across the country for art collectors, exploring the connection between art and craft. One such house perches on a Seattle-area hillside, deferring to nature. Architecture critic Paul Goldberger says of the firm's work: "this is an experiential architecture, not a theoretical one...marked by a self-assured and sensual presence, shaped by light, texture, materiality, and scale." — Editor

Sited on a steep shoreline hillside, this house commands broad views of Elliott Bay and Puget Sound. A separate restored beach house on the same site affords water-level access and views. Switchback stairs hug the slope and connect the upper residence with the beach house and shore 45 feet (14 meters) below. Fitted between mature trees, the houses explore relationships between architecture and landscape.

The entire site is considered living space, with rooms formed both inside and out. A Zen-inspired garden court is cradled in the hollow between the street and the open, ell-shaped house, whose shorter, pavilion leg adjoins the minimally landscaped garden. A narrow entry links this leg to the longer leg of the ell. This larger but visually subordinate cedar-clad element contains the garage, kitchen, and utility rooms.   >>>

 
This article is excerpted from Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects: Architecture, Art, and Craft compiled by Oscar Riera Ojeda, with permission of the publisher, Monacelli Press.

 

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