Laurelhurst Studio

Portland, Oregon  |  Design:  PATH Architecture  |  Construction:  Kaiser Group, Inc.

A garage construction with an added accessory dwelling unit.

Ten feet above a backyard in a residential neighborhood in Portland, this artist’s studio/yoga space/guesthouse conjures up thoughts of a childhood tree house.  The entrance to the unit is via an exterior staircase.  Floor to ceiling windows on the east and south walls frame views of the tree canopy surrounding the property.  Dappled morning light floods the space in the early hours of the day, and as the sun moves overhead, light is reflected throughout the space from the private, outdoor spa below.

The primary intention of this project was to create a versatile space for the client that could be used as a guesthouse, an apartment, an artist’s space, or a yoga studio.  With a straightforward structural design, the building’s beauty is due to the high attention to detail, materials, placement of windows and doors, and expert craftsmanship.  An efficient use of existing and potential space, consideration of changing natural light conditions, and creating a central connection to the backyard, together with the City of Portland’s accessory dwelling unit (ADU) design standards, helped shape the structure’s design.

The building features a modest façade and ample eaves.  Its form blends well with the existing style and scale of the urban neighborhood.  As the user moves from the main house or the busy street outside into the backyard, the restrained structure of the garage and studio building seems to open, capturing the east light and establishing the strong connection to the modern landscaped outdoor space.  This outdoor living room connects the main house to the studio and is intended to be enjoyed year-round, with a sauna/shower, fire pit, in-ground spa, and an outdoor kitchen.  Despite the intentional open connection between these three spaces, the ADU is designed to provide the user complete privacy if desired.