century heights house
location: bend, oregon year: 2016 size: 2,800sf status: under construction

Perched dramatically on the edge of a basalt lava outcropping, the Century Heights House finds material and formal inspiration in the tough volcanic site on which it’s constructed. Weathering steel, exposed concrete, fiber cement, and richly stained cedar comprise a durable palette that embraces the effects of time and exposure - a necessity given the intense summer sun and harsh winter storms that roll through so dramatically from the west.

The unconventional polygonal shape of the home’s footprint is a direct result of the oddly-shaped property boundaries, further constrained by deep utility easements and the prominent 20-foot tall ridge of lava bisecting the middle. As a result, the footprint of the home presses on all sides against the legal and practical boundaries of the large site’s tiny buildable area. The resulting faceted, polygonal form reacts to and re-frames the angularity of the site and the ruggedness of the terrain.

Bordered on the West by a privately-owned open space preserve, the Century Heights House gains access to dramatic views of Mt. Bachelor and the forested Century Corridor, yet must simultaneously confront the challenges inherent to such an exposed site, including relentless late afternoon sun to the west, strong variable winter winds, and road noise and light pollution from the heavily trafficked arterial below. Accordingly, the structure is robust, with deep staggered-stud wall framing and closed cell spray foam insulation to temper the ambient road noise. The home’s upper floor living areas enfold and embrace a large covered outdoor patio, shielding it from sun and sound while framing views to the neighboring open space and far-field mountain views beyond.

Internally, the organization of the compact multi-level home is tailored to provide varied at-home work and studio spaces for the owners, who find themselves desiring differing characteristics of work environments throughout the day  - and throughout the year. Conventional office-like spaces are provided on the lowest floor, nestled close to the ground and acoustically separated from the rest of the home; meanwhile, several impromptu areas for collaborative work exist on the main open living level, doubling as entertainment spaces in the case of large gatherings. A sun-drenched plywood-clad office loft occupies the highest point of the structure, and is afforded fantastic 180 degree views of the mountains and forest beyond - in addition to upper-level roof deck access.

This house-as-workplace has been designed on a tight budget, with an intentional emphasis on crafting a robust and flexible outer shell while allowing for a simple, industrial-chic interior fit and finish that will adapt and reinvent itself over time.

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