Collection by Lou Maxon

Building the Maxon House: Week 3


In our latest Backstory series, Seattleite Lou Maxon recounts the thrills and trials of ditching the suburbs, buying property, and designing and building a modern house with Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig Architects. Week Three: Thoughts on site...

When we started we thought it was all about the house. Our thinking was: find cheap land and voila, the rest would take care of itself. As we later engaged with the architect and his work, we learned that site carried at least the same weight as the architecture of the eventual house. Each feature of the site we would engage with had its own opportunities and challenges. We hadn't considered this as we embarked on our site search and selection. In the end, we selected a site purely on instinct and raw potential. This decision, although risky, proved to pay off down the road as we experienced the complete transformation of the site and its true beauty. All photos by Maxon House unless otherwise noted.

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At no time during our site search was our priority finding a multi-acre forested site—but as anybody looking for a new...
I gathered that the couple we bought the property from did a little Edward Scissorhands job on the very narrow sliver...
Slowly the site revealed its potential. The sliver view transformed into a slice. Then evolved into an entire window.
First steps: Moving timber, making roads, clearing and thinning dense forest.
As the site started to develop, wonderful opportunities came along to leverage some of the cut timber.
To practice living with the site, we made an effort to visit it at all different times of day and during different...
I also learned that you can’t just wipe down a site. Sites are messy and complex organic things.
The existing mounds of dirt, mountains of fallen or cut trees, and the odd stake made for a natural opportunity to play.
Well before we signed on to write this blog for Dwell we started documenting this project for our own personal story,...
I’d estimate that the site was walked, staked and mapped out at least a hundred times before we even hired the...
We were really inspired by nature. We’d be on the site and see deer, bugs, even bears.
The site afforded the opportunity to not only learn about responsible thinning and clearing but also to have a FSC...
The original access to the site consisted of an existing logging road.
This is the end of the logging road.

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