written by:
photos by:
February 8, 2016
An architect couple sets out to transform a run-down property.
Studio addition in Seattle

The studio addition is part of a revamp that unifies buildings, canopies, and the courtyard. It was a three-year job for architect-owners Matt Wittman and Jody Estes, with many materials opportunistically salvaged.

Photo by 
1 / 7
Key materials of this Seattle studio are reclaimed

Steel pipe columns and wood beams were recycled from a 1960s church carport; the old-growth fir sliding screens, fence, and gate originate from a heavy timber warehouse in Pioneer Square; the aluminum-and-glass garage door is reclaimed from a downtown condo conversion; and the studio’s shelving and track lighting is courtesy of workstations from another downtown building.

Photo by 
2 / 7
Living area in a Seattle studio

Inside the studio, sliding fir screens hide storage, utilities, and a bathroom. The ceiling and wall panels are plywood, the floor is radiant heated concrete. An Eames lounge chair from Herman Miller mingles with an IKEA sofa.

Photo by 
3 / 7
Crushed stone carport in Seattle

The glazed envelope and overhang of the new studio puts the material collage on full display. It is designed in the Miesian pavilion tradition, a study in planes and columns. A crushed stone perimeter fills in the carport and steps to the courtyard. Wittman explains: “We wanted to continue the blurring of Japanese landscape design with modernists like Mies van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright.”

Photo by 
4 / 7
A Seattle studio's courtyard

A covered walkway provides a sheltered passage between the main house and studio. The fire pit is used during social gatherings. 

Photo by 
5 / 7
Sunken courtyard with a shade tree

The courtyard is sunken because of the existing grade. The Albezia shade tree was planted when the outdoor area was still scrap yard, an “act of hope and faith in the future,” says Wittman.

Photo by 
6 / 7
Corrugated steel carport in Seattle

Carport doors swing open to the alley outside of the studio, where the property extends enough for additional landscaping. The corrugated steel siding comes from a surplus from a nearby apartment building. “There’s a lot of urban infill potential in Seattle’s neighborhoods,” Wittman remarks. “We’re catching up to older, denser cities in this regard.”

Photo by 
7 / 7
Studio addition in Seattle

The studio addition is part of a revamp that unifies buildings, canopies, and the courtyard. It was a three-year job for architect-owners Matt Wittman and Jody Estes, with many materials opportunistically salvaged.

For Seattle architects Matt Wittman and Jody Estes, the slow road to upsizing really paid off. Facing rising housing costs downtown, they traded an apartment for a small house in a gritty neighborhood, sensing promise in a deep, skinny lot with a scrap-filled yard. A few years later, enough resources had been marshaled to append a modern studio. The cottage and addition are sharp stylistic contrasts, but an elegant courtyard and a careful material transition mediates and harmonizes.

“The project has an eclectic feel because it evolved over time,” says Wittman. “And the scale was such that we didn’t have to favor any one source for materials.”

Constructing a carport was the first major commitment, followed by wood, bamboo, and concrete block perimeter walls and green screens.

Wittman and Estes named their creation Grasshopper Studio for the lightness it exhibits in wood and glass and the subtle strength of steel pipe legs that bear the vertical load. “I feel it might just get up and hop away,” says Wittman.

 

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

45 dva 2270 persp1 cmyk 0
The prospect of retirement doesn’t just signal the end of a career; it offers the chance to recalibrate and re-prioritize in life.
July 25, 2016
18
You don’t have to choose between sustainable energy and curb appeal.
July 19, 2016
jakemagnus queensland 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
July 06, 2016
content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
angular
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016