Helen Street

Seattle, Washington
Location
  • Seattle, Washington
  • The clients were living on a rural property east of Seattle but found themselves drawn back to the growing vibrancy and culture of the city. They loved the peaceful setting of their old home with its quietness and easy indoor/outdoor living but it was oversized for two people and two small dogs. The new project would distill their way of living into a smaller footprint, specifically tailored to their tastes and activities.

    Helen Street is on the north edge of the Madison Valley neighborhood abutting the fringe of the Washington Park Arboretum, but within easy walking distance of the village center. Early design discussions focused on a simple modern structure with a purity of materials and a quiet palette constructed on a modest budget. The home should be open, light filled and private but also transparent and open to views to the landscape. Above all, the owners described a quiet design integrated with landscape that would create a tangible calmness in the home.

    The concept grew from this premise, drawing complexity from the opportunities and constraints of an urban corner lot. A courtyard in the center of the site brings light and private outdoor space deeper into the site and serves as an organizational hub for the home. The sunnier south and western fringes of the site are reserved for gardens. Territorial view corridors helped identify where the building could be very transparent and where privacy was more important. The material palette was simple with a largely glassy main level with solid volumes crisply detailed in cement panels. Floating above, the roof plane and master suite are clad in naturally weathered cedar planks. Anchoring the house around the courtyard, the outdoor chimney and garden shed are clad in heavy reclaimed timbers, stacked and blackened.

    By working closely with the owner, who also managed and built the project, the design concept and execution were closely integrated from concept through fabrication. The limited construction budget was focused on key spaces and experiences while others were kept more straightforward. With a shared understanding of project goals there was a great economy of communication and efficiency in realizing the built work.

    The outcome is a project that is simple but very intentional and serves as a backdrop to the landscape and the lifestyle of its inhabitants. A true collaboration.

    mw|works architecture + design
    Eric Walters, lead architect

    Steve Mongillo, lead architect

    Suzanne Stefan, design team

    Collaborators
    Landscape Design: Wittman Estes (Matt Wittman and Jody Estes)

    General Contractor: Treebird Construction (Ian Jones)

    Structural Engineer: PCS (Jim Harris)

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    Modern home with outdoor and front yard. Helen Street by mw|works Photo  of Helen Street

    Helen Street by mw|works

    Modern home with outdoor, side yard, trees, and shrubs. Helen Street by mw|works Photo 2 of Helen Street

    Helen Street by mw|works

    Modern home with outdoor and horizontal fence. Helen Street by mw|works Photo 3 of Helen Street

    Helen Street by mw|works

    Modern home with outdoor, front yard, small patio, porch, deck, and wood patio, porch, deck. Helen Street by mw|works Photo 4 of Helen Street

    Helen Street by mw|works

    Modern home with outdoor and wood patio, porch, deck. Helen Street by mw|works Photo 5 of Helen Street

    Helen Street by mw|works

    Modern home with outdoor, small patio, porch, deck, and wood patio, porch, deck. Helen Street by mw|works Photo 6 of Helen Street

    Helen Street by mw|works

    Modern home with outdoor. Helen Street by mw|works Photo 7 of Helen Street

    Helen Street by mw|works

    Modern home with outdoor. Helen Street by mw|works Photo 8 of Helen Street

    Helen Street by mw|works

    Modern home with outdoor. Helen Street by mw|works Photo 9 of Helen Street

    Helen Street by mw|works

    Modern home with kitchen. Helen Street by mw|works Photo 10 of Helen Street

    Helen Street by mw|works

    Modern home with dining room. Helen Street by mw|works Photo 11 of Helen Street

    Helen Street by mw|works

    Modern home with kitchen, marble counter, and wall oven. Helen Street by mw|works Photo 12 of Helen Street

    Helen Street by mw|works

    Modern home with kitchen, wood cabinet, and marble counter. Helen Street by mw|works Photo 13 of Helen Street

    Helen Street by mw|works

    Modern home with kitchen. Helen Street by mw|works Photo 14 of Helen Street

    Helen Street by mw|works

    Modern home with kitchen. Helen Street by mw|works Photo 15 of Helen Street

    Helen Street by mw|works

    Modern home with kitchen. Helen Street by mw|works Photo 16 of Helen Street

    Helen Street by mw|works

    Modern home with living room, concrete floor, and two-sided fireplace. Helen Street by mw|works Photo 17 of Helen Street

    Helen Street by mw|works

    Helen Street by mw|works Photo 18 of Helen Street modern home

    Helen Street by mw|works

    Helen Street by mw|works Photo 19 of Helen Street modern home

    Helen Street by mw|works

    Modern home with outdoor. Helen Street by mw|works Photo 20 of Helen Street

    Helen Street by mw|works