SSH Houses

Seattle, Washington

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This project involves two related but free-standing houses on adjacent city properties. Each site presented a difficult slope up from the street. Maximum building height regulations and setback requirements defined a fairly small building envelope for each.


There is a family relationship of the two sets of owners: a mother, daughter and their two husbands. Both needed a simple (and similar) family home with open living, dining and kitchen spaces, Bedroom spaces were to be placed on an upper level to enhance privacy. Budget and space limitations of the two lots necessitated designs of optimum efficiency.


Initial design studies considered a “bunkered” solution for each garage. However, it quickly became apparent that significant planning and cost efficiencies could be realized if the two houses were developed concurrently as a pair. They were built by the same contractor with matching plans and shared access (guaranteed by easement) to a common motor court in front of both garages at the up-slope back lot. Constructing the garages above grade reduced shoring and foundation expenses while the matching plans and simultaneous construction reduced contractor mobilization expenses and allowed for an “economy of scale” in the purchase of building materials. Individuality of the two residences is enhanced by varied coloring of the exterior and interior finish materials and a selection of different fixtures throughout. The open quality of living spaces on the ground floors takes full advantage of views through the glazed street front while a sheltered terrace between each garage and its respective house provides for outdoor activities. Openings in walls facing side property lines are few in number and kept small to maximize separation from neighbors.