Henry Island Residence
San Juan Islands, Washington
“The design is made up of a clean kit-of-parts, used sensibly and sensitively. The design emphasizes a sense of the assembly of building elements that is very tactile.”
The winding approach through the pristine site in the San Juan Islands pulls one deep into the forest before turning back toward the house. Proceeding from the darkness of the forest past two linear screen walls, one steps onto the center of a staggered wooden boardwalk and into the open foyer facing bright views of the water beyond.
The boardwalk extends to each side, organizing the series of steelframed pods gathered into two pavilions. The boardwalk is enclosed only where it slides through each pavilion, encouraging visitors to encounter the natural world more directly by experiencing the temperature, sights, and smells of the island when traveling through the house.
Stilts lift the bedroom and living pavilions off the ground to minimize impact on the site, preserving existing mosses and other ground covers as much as possible. At the ends of the pavilions, a folded plane of green roof tilts up, catching light and offering views of the forest.
Common materials such as glue-laminated fir rafters, plywood decking, and cedar slats mix with steel columns and beams, weathered steel siding, and planes of crisp drywall to form a gracious, yet modest, modernist island retreat.
This year round vacation residence provides both a quiet family retreat and a welcoming place for large summer gatherings.