Architecture

BACKYARD COTTAGE QUICKSTART GUIDE, UPDATED FOR 2019

Now that the new legislation is in place, it is time to upload an updated Quickstart Guide for 2019. Keep in mind that we couldn’t get too deep into the weeds here, so if you have questions, please contact us and we can walk you through the changes in more detail.

Link to PDF

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Phinney Ridge backyard cottage

phinney ridge backyard cottage We have been working with a couple who are planning on moving out of the original house, and into a new backyard cottage.  We're pushing the limits within the ordinance--almost exactly 800 square feet--in order to build a 2 bed room, bath and a half cottage. Although the house is small, the spaces inside feel just right.  And we'll be able to include a lot of high finish touches and crisp details because we aren't spending money on lots of square footage. Having a finite perimeter and volume really focuses the mind on the priorities of the design.

The character of the house the client's wanted is very craftsman and the scale and roofline fits right in with the neighborhood in general--certainly not the scary developer vision that opponents of the ordinance summoned during the public hearings.  It reinforces that these projects are for people with a vested interest in both their property and their neighborhood and are very sensitive to the impact on their neighbors.

Here is another view which shows off the walkout patio off the dining space, the entry mudroom and the band of windows that wrap the living room, dining and kitchen:

seattle backyard cottage in phinney ridge

We are also going to integrate a rain water harvesting system, radiant floors on a super efficient combination boiler, vaulted ceiling upstairs, and a extra height crawlspace with a rat slab to make up for some of the storage space lost in the downsizing.  For floor plans, follow the jump below:

First floor plan:

widner-1st-FLOOR

Second floor plan:

widner-second-FLOOR

The Sunset Substation: a new pocket park for Seattle

We are very excited to begin a new project for the Sunset Hill neighborhood to transform an abandoned City Light substation parcel into a pocket park.  Based on the input from the community thus far, the program is very intriguing:  a community space with an artist-in-residence caretaker, powered by a serious photovoltaic array. There may be more or different elements as the project evolves in the community design process, and as we navigate through various City agencies and funding sources, but fundamentally this has all the values we expound as a firm:  sustainable building, energized public space, housing options/density, and  an interactive process that invests people in the civic life of their neighborhood.

In 2008, I designed a structure with a similar program for a Dwell Magazine conceptual competition:

Crissy Field House

Set at the east end of Crissy Field in San Francisco, this Community Room/Exhibit Hall creates an anchor for a new sculpture park. The hall is a multipurpose space, more infrastructure than building--for public events, private events, exhibits, etc. The glass sliding panels open the hall to the public, the park and the views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

A small caretaker's residence is situated on the second floor, using the broad roof of the Community Room as a vegetable garden, eliminating the conflict between the public park and the private residence. The glass screen walls provides security, and electricity--the design on the glass is created with a photovoltaic interlayer, which powers the house and hall. Stormwater is captured, stored and used to irrigate the roof garden.

While this little conceptual project may help to inform the Sunset Substation, I'm excited to apply some of this experience in designing a real world pocket park.

Stay tuned....

WASTE NOT--an installation in Pioneer Square Alley

alley The big opening is tonight from 5 to 9, between 1st and 2nd just south of Pioneer Square--

Yesterday we hoisted the installation in place. While we still have to do lighting, the impact is great! From the end of the alley, the installation looks like a lonely cloud hovering there, and only once you get beneath it can you see the message "WASTE NOT."

Nord Alley Party 5: Thursday November 3rd

alley installation--in process We are working on a collaborative art installation for the Nord Building's upcoming Alley Party, sponsored by two non-profits, Feet First and the International Sustainability Institute.

Feet First is an advocate for walkable communities, and ISI works on documenting global best practices for urban sustainability.  They have been working with their neighbors to transform alleys from nuisances to assets. Part of the program to invigorate the alleys as a vibrant urban places is their Alley Parties.  Each one incorporates art, music, food and drink to draw people into the alley and give people a different perspective on what they can become.

This Thursday, CAST, in collaboration with Christopher Ezzell of E Workshop, and Vashon Island artist Shahreyar Ataie,  will open an art installation that will float over their the Nord Building's section of alley, using about 600 recycled 2 liter bottles.   It will be up through the New Year.

So come one and all!  Did I mention there will be food, drink and music?

Alley between 1st and Second, just South of Occidential Park

314 First Avenue

November 3rd,  from 5 pm to 9 pm

CAST will be in upcoming book on pro bono design!

IMG_3789-webCAST has been involved in a number of  pro bono projects over the years, such as parks, community gardens, community centers, art installations, and smart development, and one of those, the Interbay P-Patch, is being published in an upcoming book on pro bono design by Public Architecture. This project was originally headed up by Nathan Walker, and after he left town, we've continued our involvement, adding a kiosk, arbor and most recently cool signage at the street.

We're really excited about the P-Patch, one, because it is a project that is near and dear to our hearts, and two, it can inspire more firms to offer their expertise to help civic and community causes, and more citizen groups to see that if they can dream it, they can build it.

My backyard cottage idea: what would you do?

northwest perspective showing clerestory band wrapping studio and office north elevation: office over guest suite to the left/studio to the right

With the impending vote on the backyard cottage ordinance, everyone in the office has been doing a little daydreaming about the DADUs and what they would build.  I have been working on a idea that started with a little ink drawing. It's now developed into a preliminary model/floor plans.  I've flipped the shed roof to have more volume in the shop/studio and worked out the bathroom so that my shop could easily be converted into an open kitchen/living space.

I have also been working out a simple steel structure, clad with structural insulated panels for easy construction and minimization of waste.  The goal is prefabrication of the components offsite, then assemble.

I'd love to try out using a geothermal pre-heating loop, with a hydronic radiant system run of a domestic hot water heater and test the new PV shingles, but that might get a bit expensive.

Seattle Backyard Cottages-Land Use meeting recap

We're almost there--the committee passed the measure to allow backyard cottages in Seattle.  Next stop will be City Council. There are some notable amendments to the ordinance--the 50 per year allowed cap has been eliminated.  The heights have changed somewhat.  A discussion to limit the cottage height to no more than 15' above the primary residence's roof (which would affect sloped lots primarily) was tabled without conclusion.

The discussion is a little strange, in that some of the requirements being tossed around are more stringent than for building a single family house.  Case in point--if this relative height limit section passes, you will need a topographic survey to prove that the cottage conforms (not required on a new house if well within setbacks and under height), thus added about $2000 to the pricetag for the drawings.  This doesn't make any sense if the city is serious about this as being an affortable option.

Another case in point--Councilmember Rasmussen was leaning toward a neighborhood notice, similar to a MUP, but the neighbor's recourse, provided the cottage design fits the requirements, is nil.  The cottage is a Level 1 decision (no notice necessary, just like a new single family house), but creating such a provision would form a special class of notice ("Here is what is happening next door, but there is nothing you can do about it.  Thanks for coming down.").

Unfortunately, I had to run out before the discussion on the privacy issue, another NIMBY favorite, but in the end the ordinance is one step closer to fruition.

You can see the entire meeting online at the Seattle Channel here.  Backyard Cottage discussion starts at 107.30.