- Sustainable Architecture
- Hoedemaker Pfeiffer, Hillside Sanctuary, San Juan Islands
It all came about because the property owner wanted a personal retreat inspired by a home that had been lost to fire decades earlier in the hills of Appalachia, in the northeast of the United States. Still, the brief wasn’t to recreate that home but rather to give its spirit new form in the Pacific Northwest, on the San Juan Islands.
So, the design team envisioned a series of simple stone volumes. From that concept emerged the main house and a guest house, each responding to its own unique location on the site. At the same time, taking full advantage of sweeping views of Puget Sound. Indeed, the main home is sited on a small plateau high on top of a steeply-sloping hillside. A low stone plinth and a stone wall form the base and rear of the house. Then, a light-filled wood structure sits on the base, providing a visual connection with the dramatic landscape. The simple shed roof tips low in front to protect from the summer sun while offering space for a photovoltaic array above. In turn, winter light penetrates through a wall of glass running continuously across the building’s south elevation.
The site for the guest house came with more significant technical challenges. The concept by Hoedemaker Pfeiffer begins with a stone tower set near the centre of the small circular plot. With the interior layout distributed around it, this tower is the focal point of the building. The main entry - a full-height opening cut into the stone volume’s north elevation - leads into project’s public spaces. The stair is comprised of a concrete base below large casement windows, so natural light fills the stairway as it leads guests toward the bedrooms located at the home’s lower level. Opposite the entry, the view deck extends cantilevers far above the slope. Lastly, the dining room was conceived as a three-sided glass object floating in a forest of trees. Two steel beams carry its entire weight and extend deep into the floor system. To enhance the connection with the location’s lush nature, the team from Hoedemaker Pfeiffer preserved trees only a metre or so from the dining room by developing custom retaining walls capable of avoiding critical root zones.
The materials used to build Hillside Sanctuary make this retreat look as if it is growing naturally out of the ground, for a relaxing stay, seamlessly connecting with these very special natural surroundings.
Project Team: Hoedemaker Pfeiffer (Architecture)
Schuchart Dow (Contractor)
Randy Allworth, Allworth Design (Landscape Architect)
Malsam Tsang (Structural Engineer)
LPD Engineering (Civil Engineer)
Nelson Geotechnical Associates, Inc. (Geotechnical Engineer)
Island Tree Doctor (Arborist)
Location: San Juan Islands, WA, USA
Images: Kevin Scott (Photographer)