Wright Guest House

The Highlands, Washington
1987

Part of an 8.5 acre complex owned by art collectors, this guest residence fits into the landscape and is not visible from the main residence. To accomplish those two requests by the owners, the guest house is fitted into a natural depression in the surrounding forest. To further integrate this structure into the landscape it is dug into the depression as much as 14 feet below grade. It is accessed both by a “sculpture” trail from the main house and by a boardwalk through the forest.

By emphasizing the massive concrete wall, the architects attempted to reveal the weight of the earth and the weight of the materials used to retain it. The concrete was also used to visually contrast with the wooden “tent” that encloses the residence. Inside, the warm gray-green concrete walls of the house serve as a foil for paintings and sculpture.

The wooden structure was twisted from the L-shaped concrete wall both to enlarge the entrance and constrict the elbow where the circulation passes from public to private zones. It was hoped that this misalignment of grids would also further heighten the contrast between the ephemeral wooden tent and the timeless concrete wall.

Awards

- AIA Honor Award, Seattle Chapter, 1988
- AIA Merit Award, American Wood Council, 1988