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Contemporary Family Dwelling

American studio MW Works has created an “intentionally modest” apartment in the Pacific Northwest that serves as a retreat for a multi-generational family. The project called Whidbey Island Farm is on a perch overlooking a meadow where cattle graze.

The apartment serves as a country house for an elderly couple, their three grown children and their grandchildren. The property with old trees, a fish pond, chicken coops and a red barn has been in the family for several generations. The house had to be flexible, durable and suitable for up to 20 people. The house is on a gently sloping plot and consists of three straight volumes arranged around a central courtyard. The inner courtyard, which is crossed by paths, is filled with local greenery and is bordered by a low wall made of local basalt. The inner courtyard becomes the visual and physical connection between the various volumes and provides access and connection, but offers separation and retreat if desired.

The volume to the south contains a centrally placed kitchen which is flanked by a dining area and living room. The living room leads into a spacious terrace where the residents can enjoy the view of the landscape. Adjacent to the public area is a wing that houses the sleeping areas, including a master suite. This part of the house has a basement floor where the architects installed two bedrooms, a laundry and a wine cellar. The third volume contains a garage on the ground floor and a guest who lives upstairs, with sleeping areas and a living / dining area.

The interior features soft colors and earthy surfaces, including cream-colored plastered walls, wooden ceilings and wall panels, and a stone fireplace. Certain doors and murals are made from panels of cedar wood carved by one of the customers decades ago.

The house has a number of sustainable elements including locally sourced materials, a roof for planting and a building envelope that exceeds passive house standards for airtightness.

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