Taking inspiration from its remote location on the San Juan Islands, the Hillside Sanctuary is a retreat inspired by a treasured stone and wood home lost to fire decades earlier in the hills of Appalachia.
US-based design studio Hoedemaker Pfeiffer took on the challenge, creating a main house and guest house each adapting to the unique location, giving space for family and friends to relax and enjoy the natural beauty around them.
Main Home: Towards the Sea
The main home is anchored on a small plateau of the hillside, where stone volumes form the base and rear of the house. The main level was separated into public and private areas, where an emphasis on livability prevails through a pair of stone walls with fireplaces rising together.
Above the low stone base, we see a wood pavilion maintaining a sense of privacy. Covered by a shed roof pitched in the opposite direction, the pavilion is in this way protected from the dazzling southern summer sun, while the wall equipped with glass running continuously across the building’s south elevation let the flow of winter light stream through during the day.
House Two: Backed by Hillside
At the high site of the property illuminated by plenty of skylights, the wood pavilion leads to the primary living spaces. These face the forest, holding a guest house, a dining room, three bedrooms, a bath, and other utilitarian spaces.
Extending outward from the tower is the dining room designed within a glass cube surrounded by trees in the forest, which allows for the creation of complex spatial flow.
Here, floor-to-ceiling windows are strategically installed to ensure easy brightness and airiness. Moreover, with sustainability in mind, it is also designed to preserve natural surroundings trees without doing any damage.
At the stone volume’s north elevation, a full-height opening set at the main entry of the guest house offers easy access for guests while extending more room from the interior. What’s more, the main entry that cantilever far above grade frames optimal views of Puget Sound.
I’m especially struck by the concrete patio taking best advantage of the water views; it is as thrilling as it is beautiful. Constructed below the floating dining room on the sea-facing side, it can also be treated as a side entry into the interior. The concrete chosen for the facade ensures durability so as to withstand the harsh maritime climate.
The lower level of the back facade functions as an extension for family gatherings. The space contains two small bedrooms, one shared bath, and other utility spaces. The decision to place the master bedroom on the lower level means this level can act as a loft apartment to feel more private and self-contained.
A sense of openness and intimacy coexist throughout this renovated house settling in sloping topography, while simultaneously embracing nature by framing an expansive sea view and creating a more complex spatial flow. At the core of the hillside residence is comfortable accommodation for friends and family, which also enables two related but distinct ways of appreciating the beauty of this site.
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