Suquamish Residence–A Modern Treehouse
Located on the Port Madison Indian Reservation west of Bainbridge Island, the treehouse-inspired Suquamish Residence sought to minimize impact on the land while celebrating the surrounding forest and natural environment.
Rhodes Architecture + Light was challenged by the owners to lightly touch the land which dropped quickly from the only access point to a rocky ridge, making construction of traditional foundations very inefficient.
Utilizing the land use strategies recommended by Kitsap County we designed a “tree house” suspended above the ground on glued-laminated timber columns supporting two stories up to forty feet above the forest floor. Suquamish means “place of clear water”. The minimal impact on the land that drove this residence included simple careful strategies for capturing rain and percolating storm water, very little excavation and removal of soils, minimal concrete foundations, and a light structure that captures views of the forest, water, and a distant Seattle skyline to the east.
The residence is entered from a 55 foot long suspended bridge; the entry views of the house are of a low, humble structure, that is sensitive to the surrounding community. An entry foyer borrows space from a 2-½ story central stair that organizes and opens the interior of the house to light and eastern views. Living, dining, and kitchen spaces are open to a glass dining bay and high covered porch. A master bedroom wing shares the upper level, separated and turned 15 degrees toward views of the cityscape of Seattle. The lower level contains two guest bedrooms, bathrooms, extensive entertainment and exercise space, and storage.
The Suquamish Residence design incorporated many sustainable features including captured rainwater, simple on-site percolated storm water, a radiant hydronic heating system, high-efficiency boilers, fans, appliances, and insulating window systems utilizing reused wood dust. The predominate structural material is composed of FSC managed wood columns and beams. The majority (88%) of the 1.67 acre site was left native and untouched by architecture.
Rhodes Architecture + Light worked closely with the clients to develop a kitchen, laundry, utility, and home office center to the house, which was laid out carefully to give them an efficient working “core’. The glued-laminated manufactured from wood structure that lifts the house off of the land is also expressed honestly throughout the residence. The structural system was a careful collaboration with Swenson Say Faget Engineers and the construction of the house could not have happened without amazing work by Fairbank Construction and their subcontractors.