Agosta House

San Juan Island, Washington
Patkau Architects Inc.

The Agosta House is a private residence of 2,775 square feet designed for a couple relocating from Manhattan to San Juan Island, a small, predominantly rural island off the Pacific coast in Washington State. Second-growth Douglas fir forest covers most of the 43-acre property on which the residence sits. Ten acres have been dedicated to a perpetual conservation easement, while the house is located on a grassed meadow within the larger property, enclosed on three sides by the forest. The meadow opens to the northwest, and overlooks rolling fields below and Haro Strait beyond to the Gulf Islands.

In addition to conventional domestic requirements, the program of the house includes an office in which the couple intend to continue their professional work. Additionally, a garden enclosed within a 12-foot fence protects it from the numerous deer that run wild throughout the island. The house is stretched across the ridge of the meadow to divide the site into an enclosed forecourt to the southeast, forming a spatial reservoir which is released through the house to the scenic panorama below of picturesque fields and waterways.

The walls and roof angle to respond to the gentle slope of the site. The spatial organization of the house is the result of extruding this simple section and eroding this extrusion to create exterior interstitial spaces which subdivide the house programmatically. The insertion of non-structural bulkheads organize the interior of the house into finer spatial areas.

The construction of the house is relatively straightforward. The structure consists of a combination of exposed heavy timber fir framing and conventional stud framing clad in painted gypsum board, all built upon a simple concrete slab-on-grade. Hot water heating is distributed throughout the house by tubing cast into this concrete slab. The exterior is clad mainly with light-gauged galvanized sheet steel which is intended to protect the structure from the normal effects of weather, and also addresses the possibility of wildfire in an area not well served by firefighting.

Andresen: The architecture offers a comprehensive and successful response to the rural landscape through its formal and spatial design, and through its orchestration of ways of experiencing qualities of the site.

Komonen: The house occupies its rugged and gently undulating site in a convincing way. It has found its setting and architectural character. Simple solid body with many interior and exterior pockets for living and celebrating the unique landscape.

Macdonald: The house accomplishes the balancing of a strong and singular gesture that succeeds at the scale of the broad landscape while simultaneously establishing more finely composed local landscapes adjacent to the house and within its interior geography.

Teeple: A line is drawn across a clearing, dividing it into two natural courts. On closer view, the line is composed of a number of closely spaced parallel lines, within which lie the dwelling spaces of the house. Connections back and forth to the landscape occur at breaks in these lines. An enriched experience of the landscape is achieved through simple means.

Client: William and Karin Agosta

Architect Team: John Patkau, Patricia Patkau, David Shone

Structural: Fast & Epp Structural Engineers

Contractor: Ravenhill Construction

Area: 2,775 sq. ft.

Budget: Not available

Completion: 2000

Photography: James Dow