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Rooms with a View

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Featured Company: Bjarko Serra Architects - Location: Seattle, Washington - Project Type: Residence - Project Name: Beacon Hill Residence

Images courtesy of Bjarko Serra Architects 

By Saby Reyes-Kulkarni

Built in 1925 and later a 1950s rambler, this originally single-story structure was transformed into a modern, multi-floor home that capitalizes on the stunning views of nearby Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains. And, as one might imagine, it was no easy feat. “Many of the house’s windows still had heights of approximately five feet above the floor,” architect Greg Bjarko explains, “virtually negating the views that would otherwise be available from this location.”

Much like the client’s modest budget, the home’s cramped dimensions required creative solutions that would work within clear-cut limits. In the end, Bjarko implemented a radical makeover that included a two-story, 800-square-foot addition. “The dramatic relationship between the existing house and the two-story addition is where this project finds its success,” he says, “by maintaining interior continuity of space while having an interesting contrast of forms. The addition includes a new kitchen area and master suite, while the existing living spaces were also updated and connected to the newly created kitchen and dining spaces.”

Additionally, large sliding doors facing the south and west now flood the dining and kitchen areas with light, which reflects into the adjacent living room—a perk previously missing from the nearly 90-year-old home. Bjarko and the client also created direct access to the southernmost area of the one-third-acre lot where the client planned to plant an organic vegetable garden.

For Bjarko, efficiency and limited building materials were crucial to both match the client’s budget and to meet his firm’s high standards of sustainability. He and his team utilized energy-efficient construction practices based on added insulation and heat recovery, sustainable materials such as FSC-certified framing lumber and salvaged materials, non-or low-VOC finishes, and rainscreen wall systems.

“We were able to develop a scheme that has clarity and is efficient in its execution,” Bjarko says. “There is no excess space necessary to connect the spaces or to reconcile their various uses.”

Match Made in Heaven

This project marks only the second collaboration between Bjarko Serra and remodeling construction company Karlstrom Associates, but that has given president Sten Karlstrom enough time to become quite the fan of Greg Bjarko. “He works and plays tirelessly as a visionary,” Karlstrom says. “What I like most is his ability to allow symbiotic ideas to evolve and pull them all back together into a homogenous design aspect.”

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