2.ink Studio: The Hoke Residence sits within a dramatic woodland setting overlooking a steep ravine to the Lower Macleay Trail in Northwest Portland. The contemporary architecture of the house emerges from the hillside with strong angled geometry, offering a stark juxtaposition to the lush native planting along the south facing slope.
The house was initially developed in 2007 with little consideration to its hillside site and surrounding native landscape. Though the house was well-designed to capture dramatic views, the exterior spaces were disconnected to one another and to the larger woodland site. In 2008 the house became a popular pilgrimage destination when it was featured in the teen vampire film ‘Twilight’. Subsequently, as part of a renovation and addition to the west end of the house, the client and design team proposed an integrative design approach to rethink how the landscape could play a larger role and capitalize on its unique context. With a vision that looked at ecology, movement, and integration as design themes, 2.ink Studio radically transformed the space and harnessed processes already at work in the surrounding landscape and integrated them into the design.
2.ink Studio began the project with little more than an existing stair to the front of the house, wood decks, boulder walls, and gravel walkways that were in a serious state of disrepair. The client wanted the design to allow movement around the entire house and create small spaces that both contrast to and integrate with the surrounding forest. In addition, the clients needed space to entertain.
Because the house sits on a steep site, linking all the outdoor spaces would prove to be challenging. The client’s desire for both contrast and integration of the surrounding forest suggested a number of possible solutions, all requiring careful consideration of even the smallest details. It was decided that to improve the garden all the previous improvements around the house with the exception of parts of the front stair and a few wall fragments would need to be removed and redeveloped. But with such a radical departure from the existing garden design and extensive improvements to one side of the house itself, it was important to protect and preserve the surrounding trees and much of the surrounding vegetation. New walls would need to be built and stairs linking the steepest part of the property would need to be integrated into the design.
The design approach acknowledges the native forest context and is an extension of it. We encouraged the client to stick with a planting palette of all Oregon native plants, many of which are found naturally surrounding the property and the park below. The goal was to create a garden where no line could easily be distinguished between the house, the neighbor’s properties and the park below. The fractured geometry of the plan allowed plants to be carefully stitched into a series of narrow planting beds that were conceived as fragments of the native forest floor. Invasive species surrounding the house were removed in an effort to allow the native planting to flourish. Temporary irrigation is provided using water efficient drip tubing.
Although not required by the City’s development code, 2.ink Studio worked with the architect to develop a storm water management strategy that takes the existing downspout system completely off the City storm sewer system and manage all the water on site. This includes all the roof and patio spaces at the back of the house and filtering the water into a storm water planter that is placed prominently at the front of the house.
Other sustainable strategies include using legacy materials, such as stone, concrete, and stainless steel that will age well, require minimal maintenance such as paint and toxic coatings, and will endure for many decades with minimal updates.
The design team’s response was to develop a language of forms that spoke to the house’s position on the hillside and to integrate those forms into inhabitable spaces that are interconnected on the outside of the house and connected to adjoining rooms on the inside. By creating a series of fragmented lines using walls and walkways that push and pull against the slope of the hillside, the site design syncopates with the forms of the house. Residual spaces between became places for walking, storm water channels, planting areas, and lighting niches.
By choosing to treat all the storm water on site 2.ink Studio seized on another conceptual narrative in the design: movement. The northern-most walls were angled and canted to divert hillside ground water away from the back of the house where it has previously been a problem. When the downspouts of the house were all disconnected from their underground piping, it gave the design team the opportunity to prominently display the moving water in a series of stainless steel runnels that flow from planting beds into a larger gravel basin built under a cantilevered walkway system. The gravel basin is wide and flat and was designed to slow the flow of water as it moves around the side of the house and down a steep staircase. From there is flows quickly and creates a cacophony of sound as it echoes off the house and walls. From there, water flows into another stainless steel channel and is dropped into a vegetated storm water basin that filters and slows the rainwater. Much of the water is then allowed to percolate into the ground, diverting it from the City’s storm water system.
The resulting design is a unique series of small, but interconnected spaces that allow movement around the house and places to entertain. The sense of the surrounding forest if everywhere in the garden and fragments of the native forest floor come right up to the edge of the house. The client’s desire for a contrasting landscape is clearly evident in the smooth walls and clean surfaces of the stone and steel. The geometry of the layout helps link all the pieces into a cohesive whole.
Landscape Architecture: 2.ink Studio
Location: Portland, Oregon
Photos & text: 2.ink