Stone Solar Studio, pragmatic sustainability

NODE, Wittman Estes,

Andrew Pogue,

Seattle, USA,


Innovation, Micro Housing,

Stone Solar Studio is a modern, eco-friendly Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit (DADU). The project with the International Living Futures Institute’s (IFLI) zero energy certification and eye-catching appeal was designed by Wittman Estes Architecture + Landscape with NODE, which builds high-tech prefabs, both based in Seattle.

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Stone Solar Studio, pragmatic sustainability Build a home and keep it sustainable. This is one of the thoughts that go through the minds of many owners who want to solve some housing problems but at the same time don’t want to make a negative impact on the environment, so they don’t compromise the future of the generations to come. In the past few years, These issues have been coming to the fore more and more as we can see too in the increase in “green” certification by lots of different organizations, to be able to give official status to efforts to minimize the environmental impact of the building industry.
In the United States, particularly on the West Coast, which this year was the victim of fires of an unprecedented magnitude, there is a widespread quest for sustainability. Cities like Seattle are particularly sensitive to these issues, so it’s not surprising that when Seattle homeowner Karen Stone reached out to architect Matt Wittman of the local firm Wittman Estes Architecture + Landscape to design and build an affordable, one-bedroom studio in her backyard, the project produced more than just an eco-friendly prefab on a budget. This type of construction is called a Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit (DADU) and, according to Seattle building regulations, it is “a legally permitted unit on the property (but not within the home)”.
To respond to the needs of the client who wanted a second unit to create an additional rental income that would be completely self-sustaining, Wittman Estes approached NODE, a local prefab tech company that’s making well designed, carbon negative, non-toxic homes easily accessible. Because the assembly system for homes developed by NODE increases quality while reducing time and cost, with a guaranteed price and schedule – something you just can’t do with conventional construction, as Don Bunnell, NODE’s co-founder points out.
Designed by Wittman Estes architects, the project combines sustainable solutions with the inherent beauty of fine design. As the architect, Matt Wittman, explains: “The simplicity of the home embodies a ‘poetic pragmatism’, believing that good design can be accessible to anyone.” A south-facing solar roof provides all of the energy for the studio and the main house. The large windows, wood walkways, and small footprint create a building defined by simplicity as much as its connection to people and nature. 
This attention to design made the Stone Solar Studio Seattle’s first DADU (Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit) registered with the International Living Future Institute’s (IFLI) zero energy certification. The Zero Energy (ZE) Certification was created to allow projects to demonstrate zero energy performance. It is the only international zero energy certification to certify that the building is genuinely operating as claimed, harnessing energy from the sun, wind or earth to produce net annual energy demand through a third-party audit of actual performance data. 
The Stone Solar Studio by Wittman Estes with NODE demonstrates how it is possible to combine real sustainability, prefabrication and good design, to the joy of the client and the environment!

Christiane Bürklein

Project: Wittman Estes Architecture + Landscape with NODE
Builder: NODE, Don Bunnell
Architect: Wittman Estes Architecture + Landscape
Landscape Design: Wittman Estes Architecture + Landscape
Location: Seattle
Year: 2019
Photographer: Andrew Pogue