Backyard Box is a line of customizable Backyard Cottages that we designed in collaboration with Sloan Ritchie of Cascade Built. They were intended to respond to the recent passage of Seattle’s Backyard Cottage Ordinance. In early 2010, Method Homes sponsored a city-wide Backyard Cottage Design Challenge, and Backyard Box won in the Most Sustainable category, and Best of Show!
What is a Backyard Box? It’s a Modern, Sustainable, Affordable alternative for those considering a Backyard Cottage. With the recent passage of Seattle’s Backyard Cottage Ordinance (yay!), Detached Accessory Dwelling Units are now allowed throughout the City.
As a way to increase the amount and availability of housing options in single-family neighborhoods, and thus help to reduce sprawl, loss of community, reliance on automobiles, etc., we salute the City of Seattle for taking this important step.
As consumers find themselves in need of a little extra space for:
• a home office or studio
• aging parents or boomerang kids
• a guest house
• income via a new rental property
or a mix of these, a Backyard Box will fit the bill. Backyard Boxes are turn-key homes – a homeowner has merely to choose a model from the catalog, along with a Finish Package and available Options (e.g. a Green Roof or Rainwater Catchment system), and the home will be permitted for their lot, fabricated, delivered to the site, erected, and completely finished inside and out. Each Backyard Box will be customized for its site layout, relationship to the main house, topography, solar access etc.
These homes can be designed and built to target the Passive House Standard, a building methodology that results in houses 75- 90% more energy-efficient than conventional structures. With little additional investment (i.e. a small PV array, available as an Option), they can be truly Net Zero-Energy homes. Jim Burton, the architect of the Backyard Boxes, is a Certified Passive House Consultant. Sloan Ritchie, owner of Cascade Built, has been at the forefront of green and sustainable building in the Seattle area for several years, building some of Seattle’s first LEED certified, and certified Passive House homes.
The Backyard Boxes are all ADA Adaptable (the Small Box is shown with the Accessible Bathroom option). They are designed as variations on a theme, yet each have their own distinctive character.
Love your home and neighborhood, but need more space? We have the solution – a Backyard Box!
w w w . b a c k y a r d b o x . com
I was recently recommending to a client that we do a Sketchup model of their project, to better understand what our design was leading to, and some choices we’ll need to make affecting the massing etc.
Afterwards I recalled how anti-computer-modeling I used to be, in favor of true hand-built models over digital ones. Here is an early project I built a handmade model for, and then later modeled in Sketchup:
I’ve come to appreciate the value of 3D models, particularly how quickly they can be constructed, how easy they are to navigate around and through, how they can be used to study the solar properties of the site and orientation, how easily they can be shared with clients and consultants (even used with contractors to explain complex details), how quickly changes can be made to materials, proportions, details etc. I’ll always look back with nostalgia, though, to the halcyon days before computer models!
I typically do not build ultra-realistic models, with landscaping, adjacent buildings, photo backgrounds, etc., but instead very quick, simple ones to use for design decisions. Here are some more random 3D models, of projects both built and unbuilt:
This was a remodel of the main floor of a two-story house in Magnolia. The project centered around the kitchen, with the goal of opening up, expanding, and improving the efficiency of what was a very awkward space. The adjacent family room got a new media cabinet, and the powder room was remodeled too. The kitchen was bumped out a couple feet into the back yard, to gain a little more space.
The highlight of the new kitchen is an under-lit island, offering scads of seating. The new cabinets in the kitchen and family room are striking, with their zebrawood veneers.
This was an addition and remodel of a one-story house in the Magnolia neighborhood. The structurally unstable east wing of the existing house was demolished, and replaced by a two-story addition. The west portion of the house was retained, and incorporated into the new design. A new stair separates the two halves.
The addition contains a family room, powder, and laundry on the first floor, and three bedrooms, two baths upstairs. The master suite has new views of Puget Sound. The existing kitchen, dining and living room areas were left relatively untouched, to keep within a limited budget. The existing one-story portion that remained was re-roofed and re-sided to match the updated style of the addition. The HVAC system was replaced with an energy efficient hydronic system, with a heat-recovery ventilator for fresh air.
The steel stair railing was fabricated by the architect.
After an extended hiatus, doing large commercial projects, I’m back doing residential design. I’ll follow up this post to show some recently completed new projects. In the meantime…
This past summer my family spent several weeks in Europe, mostly Italy. While there I was reminded of the time I spent studying in Rome, many years ago. I spent two semesters there in grad school, and much of the time was spent sketching. We made many field trips, around Rome, and across Italy, always with our sketchbooks in hand. I regretted not thinking to bring a sketchbook with me on this recent trip, but resolved to begin sketching again when I returned home (and I actually have)!
Here are some sketches (and a couple of more finished drawings) from back then: