Seattle-based architecture studio Mwworks is creating this residence on a rural site on Whidbey Island, USA, for a couple who wanted a modern home on the edge of a wooded hill. The house overlooks chicken coops, a weathered red barn, cattle fields and a fishing pond. From the valley, it appears intentionally modest and humble, deferential to the pastoral farmland below.
Located on Whidbey Island in Seattle, USA, the home is designed by Mwworks as a retreat and second home for a growing family with strong roots on the island going back generations. Flexible, durable and designed for summer barbecues, fishing with friends and family gatherings, it reflects the complex history of the site and the family. Imagined to be comfortable for two, it can accommodate up to twenty people, with a four-bedroom main house and a dormitory for grandchildren and guests. The project is divided into discreet, modestly sized volumes carefully woven between tall Douglas fir trees around a courtyard of natural, native shrubs and ferns. A low wall of stacked local basalt stones organizes the ensemble and defines the perimeter of the courtyard. The courtyard stands out from the other entities, providing access, connection and separation as well as a peaceful retreat. With the protection of the trees, the little fall that is needed is stored and used as lumber for the farm, fencing for the livestock, and seasonal firewood for the chimney and the new fireplace at the edge of the meadow. Many of the interior doors and wall art are solid cedar slabs carved decades ago by the family patriarch, creating a link between the past and present. The solid cedar master bedroom door is handcrafted by the owner. With a palette of naturally weathered woods, concrete, locally quarried stone walls, dark oak window jambs, solo plaster walls, and black steel elements, the house is warm, rustic, simple, bright, and open, honoring the timelessness of the forest and the agricultural heritage of the site.