About Riverbank House…A quick 25 minute drive from NW Portland, our home is a remodel of 2 mismatched vernacular residential structures into a single cohesive residence. The original 2 residences, non-conforming with current zoning codes, included a 66 ft x 40 ft triple-wide manufactured home with daylight basement, 11 ft south of a 1940’s ranch style residence along the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest.
As a general contractor and an architectural designer husband and wife team the potential of the property was enticing; immediately upon our purchase of the property the manufactured home was sold, leaving behind its very substantial, full daylight foundation & beam structure, which together with the adjacent ranch house, formed the sizeable base for the single residence; combining a series of structural systems along with differing geometries and 4 different floor elevations. An existing adjacent shop building remained part of the building complex that was the base for the site plan as the project took form.
The site enjoys an ever-changing reflection of light and life; a myriad of wildlife, a continuum of passing ships, tugboats and pleasure seekers alike, and on a clear day panoramic vistas include Mt. Ranier, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood. Because the house is perched dramatically just 100 ft from the Columbia River and is within the 100 year flood plain and environmental overlay zones, we knew code requirements would be extremely involved regardless of how or what we chose to build. Where for many this “red tape” becomes time and cost prohibitive, since this was to be our home it was a simply matter of time, labor and perseverance; much of the design and accompanying paperwork was completed on weekends we spent in our teepee, erected above our river beach years before construction began.
Initial discussions revolved around the scope and size appropriate for the residence. Our experience in the business and our desire to live a life of low impact informed our decision, to build on the entire footprint and take advantage of the spectacular setting that, unlike many sites, could spatially and economically warrant this scale of home, rather than demolish part of the existing structure which would neither be devoid of its own inherent environmental & cost implications. Furthermore, despite the dissimilarities of the existing structures it was essential the resultant design not be random and accidental but rather cohesive and intentional. And while an open plan, access to light & views and connection to the site were design goals, cost and energy efficiency were fundamental motivators. Lastly, we determined the home would be a place that should evolve in parallel with our lives and while it needs to accommodate our lives now, with minor future adjustments an apartment for aging relatives can be gracefully integrated. Then later, when we decide to move on, it would become an investment for our future.
While this site enjoys a moderate Mediterranean micro climate, careful consideration was given to selections of all materials, systems, and functions within the home. Within the home, after much analysis & research the single most economic & energy efficient selection was installation of an extremely high efficiency air to water Daikin Altherma 54,000 BTU heat pump, which supplies both the domestic hot water and zoned, hydronic in-floor heat, within the 4″ concrete slab floors. Supported by the pre-existing, refinished and exposed wood beam structure below, the floors are polished and stained, exposing the organic nature of the slab, rendering warm & varied colors of the earth. Along with clear, sanded wood finishes, steel structural elements within the house were left exposed and sandblasted, and through their raw & organic essence the structure reinforces connections to the dramatic natural site. Floor to ceiling and wall to wall, thermally broken aluminum windows allow passive cooling and heating, constant daylight, minimize obstructions and further enhance the magnificent views. Expanding on our priorities, inside we included horizontal furring along the walls for increased levels of high density blown-in insulation, and reconditioned discarded various appliances & fixtures from past projects for reuse, while on the exterior, selection, placement and color of finishes was determined by those salvaged off of prior projects as well. Natural stone, color and art are finish elements, continuing the aesthetic which lend the home character, life and warmth. While still developing, the outdoor spaces frame and augment views, plantings include a mix of edibles and those with low water requirements, corresponding to natural cycles and in harmony with the surroundings.
Although portions continue to be a work in progress, the result is a home consistent with our priorities: to be fiscally and environmentally efficient, and to enhance the experience of place through its response to the unique characteristics of the site providing a place for friends and family to gather and to relish life.
Note: Please find remaining images attached as pdf files, as directed by your Fine Homebuilding Editorial Assistant.
Entry facing stairs to Living
Kitchen towards Dining & Living