Courtyard House is a new single family residence designed to replace an existing structure that had little relation to the site. The new home embraces sweeping views of downtown Seattle and Elliot Bay and the design resolves the challenges of building on an exposed, steep urban lot.
The main element of the new design is a protected courtyard, inspired by the void that was created when the existing house was removed. Two bars are oriented along the east and south property lines, creating an ‘L’ shape that forms two edges of the courtyard. The other two edges are tall concrete retaining walls - conceptual “ruins” - from the former house. One could imagine that during excavation this area filled with groundwater creating a reflecting pool. Conceptually, the reflecting pool flows into the library, thereby requiring the upper level of the house to bridge over the pool. The history and archaeology of the site are revealed as one enters the entry gate, passes through the courtyard and ascends an exterior stairway. The path turns to cross over the courtyard below, finally opening up to the dramatic south-facing city views.
The spatial sequences and circulation for the entire house continually heightens one’s experiences by modulating between open and closed spaces and alternating between landscape and city views.