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ONOMA ARCHITECTURE reveals the design for West Bar, a new home perched above the Columbia River in eastern Washington state

Project name:
West Bar
Architecture firm:
ONOMA ARCHITECTURE, in collaboration with Delta Architects
Eastern Washington, USA
Tools used:
Principal architect:
Design team:
Built area:
3,200 ft²
Site area:
Design year:
Completion year:
Contractor: MJD; Structural: CFBR; Mechanical: CEA
Notion workshop
Concept - Design
Residential › House

ONOMA ARCHITECTURE: Perched above the landscape along the Columbia River, the owner of this 9-lot development community was searching for a design approach that would attract outdoor-adventure seekers, while delivering unparalleled comfort and luxury for their custom residential portfolio. The dramatic landscape at West Bar was formed by vast lava flows which were covered by glaciers during the last ice age before being carved and scoured by floods which swept the area to create the Columbia River.

In order to preserve the unique terrain and geological history of the site, the architecture was intentionally stilted off the ground, drastically minimizing the area of excavation on the landscape. The kitchen and living room open to a 360-square-foot cantilevered sunset deck, reaching out to the western views down river and hovering above the ground below. Stepping with the steep slope of the site, the lower-level guest rooms and spa seamlessly nestle into the terrain, leveraging the landscape as a shield for privacy and protection from the natural elements.

Supporting the 3,200-square-foot home above the landscape became an integral characteristic of the architecture and is intentionally expressed by exposing the steel frame on the exterior of the home. Because of the remoteness of the site and the difficulty in constructing the home on a steep slope, the steel frame was designed as a kit of parts, which would be fabricated in a quality-controlled location off-site, then delivered, where the structure could be quickly erected and bolted together.

The single sloping roof of the home is designed as a repetitive series of wood beams, which are also precisely fabricated off-site and set atop the steel structure. The design and planning strategy of this pre-fabrication effort minimizes the material waste on-site and reduces the project schedule during construction. The materials of the residence were selected to withstand the harsh climate conditions of the site. Sheet steel for the exterior siding was used as a hard-candy shell to patina over time, naturally weathering and reducing the need for maintenance.

In contrast, the interior of the home is warmed and softened with exposed wood beams and wood interior finishes. All interior spaces are oriented to the west, taking advantage of the views and natural daylight, while the hillside to the east is used for privacy and protection. A single high clerestory window spanning the length of the eastern façade above the interior stairs allows the home to be passively cooled, reducing the dependency on energy intensive mechanical systems.

The roof, which slopes to the west, shields the cantilevered deck from the rain and protects the interior spaces from harsh solar exposure during the summer months. The interior concrete floor acts as a thermal mass during the winter months, passively heating the home during cold winter months.The house is sited within a nine-lot development community designed to attract outdoor-adventure seekers, while delivering unparalleled comfort and luxury for their custom residential portfolio. The house is currently under construction.

By Liliana Alvarez

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