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  • Writer's pictureCheryl McIntosh

Fish Hatchery Road Residence–A Small Home that Has Everything

Perched on the verge of the Snoqualmie River, high above the riparian floodplain, the Fish Hatchery Road Residence gathers its identity from its simple rural site. A small home, this residence was designed to shelter a family of seven in just 2,155 square feet while stretching out across the brow of a hill affording expansive views of river valley and farm fields below it.

Fish Hatchery Road, in Fall City, Washington, is nestled into the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. Historically a valley of farming and stock-raising, the original occupants were two forts built in 1856 to protect settlers after the Puget Sound War with eastern tribes. The current valley is broad and green and the clearing of forest has opened distant views looking up the slopes of the Cascades.

It was crucial that the residence fit the Arcadian context; breaking the house into three composite parts allowed both the definition of the house’s functions and a reduction of the house’s scale. The central long house contains the main living-kitchen-dining spaces, two compartmented bathing suites four bedrooms, an office, storage and circulation space, and mechanical rooms for water treatment and hvac. An attached, open 364 square foot carport and sheltered work-bay anchors the eastern side of the cluster of forms. A detached 414 square foot space housing parent’s bedroom-bath-dressing-closet is set at an angle to the main house and punctuates the western end, giving the two adults living here the separate “b-n-b” escape that they petitioned our design team for. All of the living spaces are designed for privacy from the road and open below shed roofs rising to the broad views of pasture, river course, and the foothills of the mountains to the south. Spaces were organized on a single circulation “spine” on the northern road side and use the minimal floor areas necessary while gaining generous space from the slowly rising open shed roof above. High glass clerestories to the north and the south bring balanced daylight into all of the spaces.

Rhodes Architecture + Light studied the roof forms above carefully, supplementing floor space below with vertical volume appropriate to each function; living and dining is defined by single vaulted roofs drawing the eye to the southern view, bedrooms, with upper lofts, are lit and punctuated by large upper south-facing clerestory glass balanced by a slotted northern clerestory, utilitarian spaces (baths, storage, mechanical) are built under lower flat roofs. The wood, laddered lofts in each kid’s bedroom were suspended like bridges, eight feet above, to be used as sleeping and play spaces in the air. The height of the house was modulated consciously to present a low assembly of forms to Fish Hatchery Road in an unassuming expression of agrarian structure while the southern-western sides rise to reflect the perched brow of the valley below.

Materials and finishes were chosen for the Fish Hatchery Road Residence to reflect the agricultural buildings nearby, for a very low-maintenance exterior, and a light-filled, cultivated, industrially-accented interior.

Exterior roofs, eaves, and flashings are oxidized “corten” steel; the roofs using a corrugated steel to reflect adjacent barn and out-building roofing in the Snoqualmie valley. Siding is a contrast of painted fiber-cement ship-lap horizontals and a vertical weathered “barn” siding. Doors and windows are black Anderson “fibrex”, permanently finished on the exterior. Ground-face natural concrete block is used for a tough base material at the carport and baths facing the road. Stained hemlock and cedar roof framing and exterior trellising lends scale to the home and expresses the structure at eaves and the carport roof.

Interiors are simple, utilizing natural concrete, grey and oxidized steel-like porcelain tile, granitic man-made stone counters, glass and exposed natural ground-face concrete block. Interior flooring is concrete, industrial porcelain tile and woven bamboo. Naturally-finished clear maple doors, cabinetry and trim were selected for a crisp, light contrast to the more industrial tile and darker flooring. Lighting was carefully chosen to accent with small LED fixtures or to reflect the agrarian, industrial character of the locale, featuring gun-metal perforated sconces with warm antique Edison filaments.

The home shares the site with three goats, donkeys, an adjacent wallaby ranch, and distant cows and sheep. A broad, graveled circular drive ringed by bermed, low-maintenance landscaping using native northwest plants, grasses, apple trees, and wildflowers faces the road.


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