- Benjamin Benschneider
Growing families in the booming city of Seattle face several challenges when contemplating building a home; increasing competition for real estate, the densification of the city and a desire to do more with less are compelling influences. BLK_LAB was designed for a growing family that wants to be urban, living a more compact indoor/outdoor lifestyle while reducing its carbon footprint.
The overall design of the BLK_LAB residence takes these challenges and notions of the northwest lifestyle head on. The owners, he’s the founder of Patano Studio Architecture and she’s a clinical neuropsychologist, worked together as any architect/client relationship would; a list of needs and wants was evaluated against the project budget. The needs and wants are negotiated and prioritized as the budget was finalized with the general contractor, and a project was born.
Built on the original foundations of the 1953 house the spatial organization creates light filled loft-like spaces in a compact urban form. The owners wanted to include an ADU unit downstairs for flexibility and possibilities. Upstairs wanted to be an indoor/outdoor example of living, a staple of life in the Pacific Northwest, integrated into the projects design with a series of new patios and terraces on the south and east sides of the structure. These new spaces created extensions to, and access from, adjacent spaces. A central stair well connects all three levels and is vital to the natural ventilation strategies of the house and funnels natural light deep within.
The project is a combination of thoughtfully placed windows for passive solar and an advanced thermal envelope. The stud cavities are insulated with cellulose. This densely packed material, with an 85% postconsumer recycled content, fills each cavity while allowing the wall to breath.
Heating is augmented with radiant floors and cooling is a combination of operable fiberglass windows and a centrally located stair allowing air to naturally circulate and ventilate. Locally sourced larch was used extensively on the project. On the exterior, the vertical larch siding boards were fastened with stainless steel nail over a proprietary moister barrier allowing ventilation while preventing water intrusion. On the interior larch was used both as stair treads and vertical screens that filter natural light, defining space and providing privacy. Additionally the vertical dividers allow the flow of air though multiple layers of the building. Overall a sense of openness and light is apparent throughout BLK_LAB at all times of the year.
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