Waechter Architecture

Waechter Architecture

Portland, OR


Tower House


Our clients came to us with a narrow and steep city lot that previously had been considered “unbuildable.”  The property is tightly situated between an existing house and a natural ravine. The challenge was to build a cost effective house on a narrow, steeply sloping site that took advantage of the views while maintaining privacy within. Our solution was to build up rather than out.  We designed a tower house that touches the ground lightly to reduce foundation costs, fits within the narrow lot constraints and minimizes the environmental impact to the remaining site.  Picture windows and loggias frame dramatic views of the city while maintaining privacy within the house.



The Tower House is conceived as 3 main rooms (LIVING, DINING and BEDROOM) floating loosely in a tubular shaped building skin or “sleeve.”  These are the dominant rooms of the house.  They are tall, generous volumes of space finished with oil rubbed quarter sawn white oak.  They are simple, quiet rooms that feel protected yet open.  The white oak palate is limited to these spaces creating a strong threshold between inside the room and out, heightening ones sense of being held and contained.



The cladding of the house is seen as a sleeve, as if it were a stretchable garment pulled down tight over the structure.  It is made of black vertical corrugated steel with rounded corners eliminating the need for corner trim.  It is a continuous, uninterrupted surface punctuated only by the window openings and loggias.  



Between the 3 main rooms and the exterior sleeve of the house, the spaces take on a cellular structure, adjusting to fit functional requirements while keeping within the space provided.  Stairs, bathrooms and closets are the building blocks of this interstitial space.  These rooms have an intimate scale with a sense of being tucked away, hidden and private.  This in-between space creates a “thickened wall” through which picture windows and loggias are carved.

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Status: Built
Location: Portland, OR