Seola Beach House

Seattle, Washington

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The waterfront property for this project is long and narrow, situated on Burien’s Seola Beach with a view across Puget Sound to Vashon Island. That portion of the site allowable for construction was quite small. A steep slope, which provides a pleasant buffering backdrop, becomes a threatening source for landslides, while the house had to be set back from the water (and at a minimum allowed elevation) for protection from storm-surge flooding. Access is provided by an existing drive which terminates partway up the hillside, at a point that was three stories above the owners’ pre-existing home.


The owners asked that the new replacement structure establish a simple, comfortable presence within a beach context.


The new residence was conceived as a mediating portal between hillside and waterfront. A massive 10foot high concrete catchment wall was introduced near the bottom of the problematic slope to protect against landslides. The top of this wall serves as a springpoint for a new steel and wood access bridge at the second-story main level. This elevated position serves to enhance views from integrated entry, living, dining, kitchen and deck spaces. The living area is a two-story volume with full-height window walls facing both the hill and water. Its transparency provides a dramatic view from the access road and yields an interior space which can at once allow one to experience the sheltering quality of the hillside and the expansiveness of the beach. For privacy and optimal views, a master suite was developed on the third level directly above kitchen and dining areas. Two multi-task rooms were set on the beach level as media, office, guest, and entertainment spaces. Cedar siding (with exposed fasteners) is used on exterior walls and will be allowed to “weather” to a silvery patina with time.

Awards & Publications

  • Home of the Year, Seattle Homes & Lifestyles, 2006
  • “Beach Houses” by Casey Mathewson (Germany), 2006
  • “On the Beach: Contemporary Beach Houses” by Andrew Hall (Australia), 2010
  • “House in the Landscape: Siting Your Home Naturally” by Jeremiah Eck, 2011
  • “The World’s Best Beach Houses” by Mandy Herbet (Australia), 2012