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Over eight years, working nights and weekends, architect Ryan Walsh completely gutted his 1925 bungalow in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, and remodeled and added to the original structure. This project has been most interesting to him because of the alternative design approach resulting from tight financial constraints. Instead of the more traditional process of first defining the aesthetic, then purchasing material to construct it, he matched previously collected “scrap” material to his building needs. He says the reward of this design challenge was reaching the utilitarian goals while honoring the inherent beauty of the materials.
To fully realize the potential of the house and site, he reoriented the interior spaces of the main house, placing the more public parts (kitchen, dining and living) on the south side. As a result of its new arrangement, the house was able to capitalize on simple passive heating/cooling concepts. He then added a shop/garage, master bedroom, and bathroom with in-slab radiant heat. The addition formed a courtyard with the main house, and with extensive landscaping, the exterior space complemented the newly designed interior. This created a strong indoor/outdoor connection.
The house became a collection of various “green” projects, each utilizing recycled materials in uncommon ways. Kitchen cabinets, for example, were made of short scraps collected from three decks. Leftover cabinet doors became a geometrical wall treatment, and cut-offs from structural plywood and interior trim created a closet wall that is art itself. On the exterior of the house is a rain screen made from a collection of old studs that were ripped in half and planed. Most of the studs were originally cut around 1925, so once de-nailed, ripped, and planed, they revealed beautiful material.
He writes that his understanding of the built environment is the result of a degree in architecture and working in architecture and design/build firms. Though each of these experiences has been valuable, he has been most inspired by the design process of his own home. By creatively designing new uses for existing materials and by using more of our current construction waste, architects have the ability to greatly diminish our impact and expand the aesthetic of the built environment, according to Walsh. Our ultimate challenge is to open the world’s eyes to the beauty and potential of every resource, he says.
Additional Article from The Oregonian
Dwell's greenest home renovation in North America is in Southeast Portland
by Shelby Wood
23 July 2008
When the American Institute of Architects and Dwell magazine went looking for "the most innovative green home renovations in North America," they found their grand prize winner in Southeast Portland.
Ryan Walsh, 36, won top honors in the national "How Green Are You?" competition for his design and rebuild of his own home -- a 1925 bungalow that he gutted and transformed with a focus on reusing leftover building materials and other "found objects."
Walsh says he spent $30,000 to $40,000 on renovations to the 1,200 square-foot house (the lot also includes a 450 square-foot garage/shop), which is located at 4104 SE 14th Ave in the Brooklyn neighborhood.
Time, however, was his biggest expense. The project took him eight years.
Rather than starting with a design, then finding the materials to execute it, Walsh started with cast-off materials and worked backward to fashion the most effective, attractive use for them.
An example: The bedroom wall (pictured) that he constructed from a pile of scrap plywood of varying thickness and color. He told me:
"I put a pile of leftover stuff in front of me and started cutting and placing in a very random, unorganized fashion. That (wall), to me, is one of the my ultimate creations as a designer or artist. It was not preconceived. I was totally reacting to the materials and each little piece and what it had in particular that it could offer the situation...these are leftover, one-foot pieces of stuff that most people don't think about using in any meaningful manner. Every house that's built has some sort of product like this."
Walsh, an intern architect, says he's worked with a number of architecture firms in Portland and Eugene since earning a bachelor's degree in architecture from the University of Oregon in 1998. His design, and those of the other contest winners "exhibited strong elements of innovation, functionality, sustainability, efficiency and affordability," said Michael Cannell, editorial director at Dwell.com and a contest judge, in a news release. "Our judging panel, including members of our editorial staff and AIA architects, closely assessed each entry for (these) elements and selected these projects as the greenest homes in North America."
Walsh received $1,000 in prize money, and slideshows featuring his home are getting big play at Dwell.com and green.msn.com.
Recycled Bungalow Architect Award (469 kb)