It’s not easy to design and build a house on a site that’s been affected by landslides, but a team of architects from First Lamp managed to overcome all obstacles when they constructed the Madison Park Tree House in Seattle, USA. The residence flaunts 3,200 square feet of space and includes no less than five bedrooms. Its primary living room appears to be resting among the trees thanks to its elevated positioning, and it shares the same open space with the kitchen and dining area.
Speaking of the dining area, it shares its fireplace with the living room and features a dining table for six as well as a contemporary hanging lighting arrangement and a modern painting. Even though the landslides discouraged many developers to attempt a project of this magnitude, First Lamp’s team came to the conclusion that a house would actually increase the site’s stability.
Five helical anchors, 54 pin piles and 110 yards of concrete later, a sturdy home emerged on the hillside and became wedged against the natural topography. The Madison Park house was designed to be energy star certified, which is why it boasts a 2,000 square foot living roof that absorbs and filters rainwater.
From the architect:
The Madison Park house is the latest custom-spec house to be designed and built by First Lamp. Situated on an existing steep slope lot in the Madison Park neighborhood of Seattle the house grows out of the hillside and allows the main living space to float out amongst the trees. This 3,200 sf, 5 Bedroom house will be an energy star certified residence and is targeted to be 4-star built green. Daunting and stubborn while also inspiring, the site was our true client . A handful of landslides had occurred here in past years, so this tucked-away location had been ignored or avoided until recently. After a series of site visits with our “ground team” (engineers, excavator, and foundation subcontractors), we came to understand two things: 1) That development here would actually increase the stability of the site and 2) It would therefore be an asset to the surrounding landscape and community During the design process we often used a tree as a metaphor for our design goals:
Sensitively Integrate Structure with Landscape and topography Stabilize the hillside with a deep root system Reduce storm water impact to the site and its surroundings.
In many ways, the design response to these goals is very literal. 54 Pin piles, 5 helical anchors, and 110 yards of concrete support the structure and retain the hillside. These are consolidated to the smallest feasible footprint, allowing the topography to surround and envelop the trunk of the house. The main living space is cantilevered from this base much the same way the branches of a tree reach for the sun. The siding is almost 100% cedar, charred to more closely reflect the deep ambient color under a grove of mature trees. The house is topped with almost 2000 square feet of living roof which acts as a filter, a sponge, and an aesthetic amenity for the residents.
Location: Madison Park, Seattle, WA 98112, USA
Contractor: First Lamp
Area: 3200.0 ft2
Photographs: Tim Bies Photography