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Our BatchGeo world MAP shows the locations of green architecture, green building and renewable energy projects featured on Solaripedia.

Project

Orchid Cityhomes Share Garage Walls

Credits: ©2010 Portland Spaces

Orchid Cityhomes is a duplex -- two connected rowhouses -- with shared walls in the garage of each home. Each residence therefore maintains a level of separation that's often missing in many attached residences. These homes were designed and developed by Building Arts Workshop of Portland, Oregon, to be sustainable. They feature remote-controlled skylights that can open for fresh air, reclaimed Douglas fir cabinets, shelving, and fir slat stairs, a rain-screen wall that filters water for irrigation, toilets, and laundry, in-floor radiant heating, heat recovery ventilators that also bring in fresh air, and kitchen countertops made from curbside recycled glass.

 

Orchid Cityhomes Elevation view

These row houses in Portland, Oregon, feature a dramatic 2-story central space that collects the Oregon sky and are united around a shared, landscaped courtyard. ©2010 Building Arts Workshop

Ruth Mullen, The Oregonian, August 2008 -- Jeff and Tracy Prose have a talent for finding inspiration in arcane building codes. That's how this husband-wife design team managed to create two rowhouses that don't look -- or feel -- anything like rowhouses. Their creative approach to the two Earth-friendly homes raises the eco-bar in a city that takes pride in its green pedigree -- but not necessarily in its infill.

The couple and their daughter, Ruby, 5, moved into their rowhouse in May 2008 and promptly sold the other for $689,000 -- before the interior was finished. Their top-rated LEED platinum project propels them into a new vanguard of resident experts embracing Portland's eco-ethic even as they challenge it. These leaders have rendered once-cutting-edge green features -- such as rainwater catchment systems, photovoltaic solar panels and hydronic radiant heat -- increasingly de rigueur as they break ground with new technologies and sustainable materials.

At the same time, the Proses defied the prevailing trend toward bright colors, earthen floors and Craftsman-inspired details. Instead, these ardent minimalists embraced a modern envelope of white walls, endless glass and clean lines that make their two homes stand like angular sculptures in the landscape. "I like to think of it as warm Modernism," says Jeff, who has a bachelor's degree in architecture. "It's warm in the sense that we're big believers in bringing nature into the building through glass walls and skylights."

The couple mined a restrictive building code for an alternative to the usual builder fare of ubiquitous rowhouses shoehorned onto lots with tiny backyards walled off by privacy fences. After subdividing an 8,800-square-foot lot near Southwest Terwilliger Boulevard, they connected the rowhouses at the garage, creating the shared wall required by code. This maximized greenspace for an interior courtyard and yet maintained the look and feel of two single-family homes -- all while adding to the city's desired density. By acting as builder, architect and general contractor, the Proses managed to keep their costs down to about $185 a square foot and maintained absolute control. "Essentially, we are our own clients," says Jeff. "The typical model is that most people see building as an economic endeavor, and we see it as just one of many parts."

Following is an additional artcile By Xylia Buros from Portland Space, in honor of the homes winning a Root Award.

“Good incorporation of sustainability. Great use of space, light, and volume.” —Dennis Allen The Orchid Street Cityhomes are not your typical duplexes. Each unit, spreading its wings from a shared wall in the garage, swells into a two-story, sunlight-drenched abode. Inspired by Japanese architecture, designers and builders Jeff and Tracy Prose wanted to infuse the spaces with a sense of calm. Bamboo-lined stone footpaths trail through the backyard nestled between the two structures. Skylights open via remote control, letting hot air out and bringing cool air inside. The open floor plan makes for an airy, luminous feel: The first floor is open from the front to the back of the house, and the second-floor rooms are arranged around this central two-story space. In the kitchen, a compact structure made of reclaimed Douglas fir houses flush cabinets, appliances, shelving, and a powder room. The stairs are made of fir slats, woven together in a Japanese style, with open risers. The project’s location (an urban infill site in Southwest Portland), its dense landscaping, and its reuse of materials all helped to secure it a LEED Platinum rating. New technology is also integral to its energy efficiency: A rain-screen wall filters rainwater that’s used for irrigation, toilets, and laundry; radiant heating warms surfaces; and heat recovery ventilators (HRVs) draw in fresh air, which is filtered and heated before being released inside. The stairway was constructed of bleacher seats salvaged from an Astoria school, and the kitchen countertops were produced on Sauvie Island using recycled glass from Seattle’s curbside recycling program.

Size: 4,000 sf
Budget: $1,378,000


Resources

Building Arts Workshop (Portland, Oregon, USA)