This Puget Sound Fortress Is Braced For a Tsunami

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By Melissa Dalton
Situated in a high-velocity flood zone on Camano Island in Washington's Puget Sound, this home is a force of its own.

Architects Dan Nelson and Tom Rochon of Designs Northwest in Stanwood, Washington, started with a foundation that includes pilings that can withstand high-velocity tsunami waves, winds that clock in at 85 miles per hour, and intense earthquakes. The lower level, nicknamed the Flood Room, is a multipurpose space with walls that can break away in a storm surge, and the main living level is located nine feet above grade.

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On the lower level, finishes retain an elegant simplicity, with polished concrete floors, exposed architectural concrete columns, and Western red cedar on the ceiling. A combination of clear glass and translucent glass rolling overhead doors open to the north and south to create a breezy, open-air space in warmer weather. 

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At 887-square-feet, the main level functions as a great room, with an adjacent principal bedroom and a 198-square-foot sleeping loft at the third level. Additional sliding doors throughout allow spectacular water views from various points, while a sun deck built atop a drain field provides a visual barrier and privacy from the road.

A staircase fabricated from bent steel plate connects the lower and main levels, its finish echoed in the steel hand railings and ship's ladder.

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Project Credits:

Design: Designs Northwest Architects

Builder/General Contractor: JP LAND BUILDER INC.

Structural Engineer: Equilibria Structural Engineering

Landscape Design: Lankford Associates

Lighting and Interior Design: h2k design

Cabinetry Design/Installation: Fine Wood Cabinets

Metalwork: Cook Welding Service