Presented by: Matthew Melcher
The Meadow House is a 2,200 square foot newly-constructed single family residence located in Eastern Washington, USA. The author was responsible for all architectural, interior and landscape design. The clients took liberty with some design elements – as is common – and have added select built-in features in collaboration with the author.
Client Profile: The Meadow House clients (Andrei and Kristy) are a professional couple with a young daughter (Lyra) and middle-aged dog (Sascha). Andrei and Kristy are both environmentally conscious, creative and physically active. In her spare time, Kristy creates found-object art while Andrei enjoys biking and working with wood and metal. Having lived for several years in a three story craftsman style home, they came to the author wanting to build a smaller home that was more efficient and strongly connected to the landscape – spatially and through material use. They purchased a two acre lot outside of the Spokane, WA city limits in a PUD formed by a group of eco-conscious homeowners looking for alternatives to urban living. The native grass covered site slopes to the south (slide 1) offering a meadow view to an evergreen wooded plateau beyond. With few trees to provide shelter from the elements, the site is subject to high winds and high sun exposure. The region is subject to a true four-season climate with hot, dry summers and cold winters.
Program: The program called for a compact two bedroom, two and a half bath home equipped with an office, craft/guest room and a two car garage. With a modest budget, Andrei and Kristy assisted in the construction and finishing of the home which included building the cabinetry, custom furniture pieces, hand-made window treatments and extensive landscape improvements. The house serves as a gallery for Kristy’s artwork (slide 2) and a canvas for Andrei to add custom-built elements (slide 4) to over time.
Design Goals: The author designed the home to achieve three primary goals: organize the home and select materials and finishes which connect the clients with the landscape; create an interior which serves as both gallery and canvas; and design/engineer the home to minimize energy use and maximize comfort.
Design Solution: The site is organized using a series of board-formed concrete site walls to define the outdoor court areas, retain the sloping earth and satisfy the structural needs. The interior of the home consists of two narrow intersecting forms; one containing the more public functions and the other housing the private areas. The resulting cruciform plan defines three outdoor living areas between the interior space and the exterior site walls. As a result, nearly every interior room is framed on both sides by exterior courtyard spaces. Interior finish materials reflect the palate of the landscape. Circulation spaces take the form of gallery halls which open onto the public spaces. These gallery hall spaces display Kristie’s growing collection of found-object art. The house was designed to be improved over time – as Andrei’s canvas. All cabinetry and many other built-in and finish features were built or installed by the clients and they continue to add features regularly in consultation with the author. The house is built using highly insulated SIPS panels (walls and roof), in-floor radiant heating, deep southerly overhangs, and incorporates ample day-lighting in each room with cross ventilation for cooling. The home was designed to be cooled naturally and is not air conditioned at the request of the owners. The clients report very low energy bills for a home of this size and comfort through the year.