A verdant site near an urban core
BACKYARD HOME IN A PRIVATE SETTING This long, narrow 2.1-acre lot hosts both a main house and the secondary dwelling featured here. Situated between a main thoroughfare and a greenway, the location bridges urban and natural settings.
Julie and Rob’s lot is a remnant of the farmland that surrounded Eugene in its early days, most of which has since been subdivided into small residential lots. Oriented east-west, the 700-ft.-long lot provides a generous solar exposure that combines with rich floodplain soil to make this property ideal for gardening. During the summer, the vegetable garden provides most of Julie and Rob’s food, as well as a surplus that they store for the winter. The lot extends between a major traffic arterial on the west and a bike path along the Willamette River to the east. Immediate access to transportation, city amenities, and the river’s ecosystem translates into urban living at its very best.
In addition to its vegetable and ornamental gardens, the property hosted a weathered barn, a storage shed, Julie and Rob’s chicken coop, and a bungalow from the 1920s that faces the street and is leased by long-term tenants. With no desire for large interiors, Julie and Rob had chosen to live in the smaller accessory house, and they wanted their new home to occupy the same location among the vegetable beds and fruit trees. Because they spend much of their time tending the land, maintaining visual and physical access to the outdoors was a top priority, so the design of the new house centered on the garden.
Julie and Rob wanted more space than they had in the old coop, but they were content to limit the area and height of their new home to comply with local regulations for secondary dwelling units. To accommodate future growth through greater housing density, Eugene’s zoning code allows construction of accessory dwellings alongside existing homes on single-home residential properties. Although the zoning code limits the interior of an accessory dwelling to 800 sq. ft. of living space, it allows this living space to be augmented with covered outdoor areas and storage or utility rooms with exterior access.
We took advantage of this allowance to add a mechanical room and multiple covered porches, and because areas with low headroom are not legally considered habitable rooms, we included a bonus space. This area, accessed by a ladder, includes a concealed mechanical-equipment attic and an open, daylit meditation loft.