A Modern Micro-House in Portland Clad in Local Fir

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By Anna Jones / Published by Dwell
Small in footprint, but grand in presentation, a 250-square-foot accessory dwelling unit provides cozy accommodations equipped with multifunctional furniture.

Designed and built on a limited budget for the client's retired parent, Kerns Micro House by Fieldwork Design & Architecture (FWD), is a thoughtfully-designed and -executed intimate housing solution that meets the city of Portland's strict design requirements—while providing for positive quality of life through design.  Replacing the footprint of a unkempt garage unit, the compact house provides a unique solution to Portland's growing housing density by making existing space inhabitable. 

The modern, minimal architecture and interior are formed from locally-sourced materials, engaging the built form with the local environment. Wrapped in a board and batten system from local wood fir, the dark exterior contrasts with the bright, light, white oak-wrapped interior space. Light and shadow create movement across the repetitive facade, while plentiful daylight fills the interior via large windows that frame nature and sky. 

An emphasis on architectural human scale, innovation, and thoughtfulness in detail characterize the interior and exterior of the home. The apparently simple skin is scaled to the human hand and dissipates across the screen door to form the handle, while providing dappled light to the interior. Adaptive, flexible custom furniture solutions maximize the small space and increase its functionality.  

A Modern Micro-House in Portland Clad in Local Fir - Photo 1 of 8 - A diagram portrays the connection between the natural elements and the built form. 

A diagram portrays the connection between the natural elements and the built form. 

A Modern Micro-House in Portland Clad in Local Fir - Photo 2 of 8 - FWD configured and fabricated many of the home's components in their own fabrication studio. 

FWD configured and fabricated many of the home's components in their own fabrication studio. 

A Modern Micro-House in Portland Clad in Local Fir - Photo 3 of 8 - The exterior skin, a board and batten system made of local fir, was built in FWD's fabrication studio.

The exterior skin, a board and batten system made of local fir, was built in FWD's fabrication studio.

A Modern Micro-House in Portland Clad in Local Fir - Photo 4 of 8 - White oak cabinetry was custom built and fabricated by FWD.  Polished concrete floors and white tile complement the warm wood tones. 

White oak cabinetry was custom built and fabricated by FWD.  Polished concrete floors and white tile complement the warm wood tones. 

A Modern Micro-House in Portland Clad in Local Fir - Photo 5 of 8 -
A Modern Micro-House in Portland Clad in Local Fir - Photo 6 of 8 - Custom furniture solutions maximize the functionality of the small space.  A built-in Murphy bed and storage unit anchors the living space.  A coffee table doubles as a bench for a fold-out window desk. 

Custom furniture solutions maximize the functionality of the small space. A built-in Murphy bed and storage unit anchors the living space. A coffee table doubles as a bench for a fold-out window desk. 

A Modern Micro-House in Portland Clad in Local Fir - Photo 7 of 8 - The custom screen door is visible on the far side of the space.  Windows are strategically located to frame views of the exterior landscape. 

The custom screen door is visible on the far side of the space.  Windows are strategically located to frame views of the exterior landscape. 

A Modern Micro-House in Portland Clad in Local Fir - Photo 8 of 8 - Light and shadow play on the textured facade.  Greenery frames the simple, geometric form of the house. 

Light and shadow play on the textured facade.  Greenery frames the simple, geometric form of the house. 

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