Urban Canyon

Seattle, USA
2009

b9 architects inc.
www. b9architects. com

Urban Canyon is a speculative housing development of seven homes designed with community living in mind. Although purely residential, the massing and shape of the buildings, along with the linked pedestrian walkways and shared outdoor spaces, generates the ambience of village life.

The buildings are carefully oriented to provide natural light and cross ventilation from a minimum of three sides per unit, whilst considering the privacy of the individual homeowners. To maximise the planned allowable density of the site, the largest mass is located at the corner, diminishing along the lengths of the streetscape toward the adjacent, existing single-family dwellings.

When the previous homes on the site were dismantled the bricks were salvaged, cleaned and used to lay the footpaths which meander
door to door throughout the canyon, (Fig. 2, and Item 6. on Fig. 5). Similarly, concrete broken out from the 19th Avenue sidewalk was re-used to construct the permeable “hard” landscaped areas detailed on the architect’s plan. The 19th Avenue sidewalk was reconstructed with a planting strip to accommodate three new trees (Fig. 4, Fig. 5). The recycling theme continues with locally sourced Douglas fir siding, further enhancing the warm rustic feel of the architecture.

Parking is restricted to the periphery of the plot, maximising and protecting the pedestrianised and soft landscaped areas within the urban village. By segregating motor transport and pedestrians, the inhabitants inevitably meet along the pathways to their homes. The provision within the development of a shared food garden (Fig. 5 Pea Patch) completes the community design philosophy.

134 Urban Canyon | Seattle | USA | Fig. 1 above | Fig. 2 opposite

* •

1 LIVING ROOM

2 MEDIA ROOh/

3 KITCHEN

4 BEDROOM

5 SOLAR SHED

6 PEDESTRIAN CANYON § 7 HOUSE ENTRY

8 PEA-PATCH

__r T_. 9 PERVIOUS DRIVEWAY

PERVIOUS PARKING ^ ^"*11 PERVIOUS OPEN SPACE

The balance between exterior glazed walls and solid party walls was used as a strategy to reduce energy consumption. Additional insulation to the walls and vaulted ceilings further increased the ability to retain heat energy.

Pre-heating of domestic water and hydronic heating is supplemented by solar energised systems. This provides a minimum of 15% of the energy requirement for this task.

Photovoltaic units ranging in size from 1.4 kW to 2.9 kW, strategically placed around the site are designed to provide up to 17% of the energy requirement per unit. The photovoltaic unit installed on the bike shed provides power to the low level external footpath lighting system (Fig. 2) and generates income for site maintenance through sales to the local utility company.

The Urban Canyon housing units are modelled to be between 30% to 45% more energy efficient than comparable units designed to 2004 IECC compliance.

The multi-family project received a City of Seattle
five star rating for sustainable design and construction. Further innovations include:

• 463 square feet of green roof area installed throughout five homes and carports (Fig. 7, Fig. 10).

• 1200 square feet of turf was removed from planting strips and replaced with low shrubbery, mulch, trees and pervious paving (Figs. 7,8,9.).

• 448 square feet of paperstone (re-cycled paper and resin composite) used throughout the development as countertops (Fig. 12).

• 485 square feet of Medite (100% recycled wood fibre) used in the manufacture of cabinetry, shelving and wall panels (Fig. 12).

• 5100 square feet of reclaimed/re-milled fir flooring used throughout the development. (Fig. 11).

The simple materials palette is informed by local supply, recyclable and recycled sources.

Urban Canyon as a housing scheme is more than the sum of its parts, largely due to the genetic intelligence of its homespun roots.