Stone-Clad Hillside Shelter Hidden Among An Island’s Rugged Landscape

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Nestled among the trees and the beautiful landscape on San Juan Islands, an archipelago in Washington, this pair of hillside structures are a wonderful mixture of old and new. They were designed and built by architecture and interior design studio Hoedemaker Pfeiffer. The general inspiration came from a beautiful stone Apalachian home which the owner had previously lost to fire. The architects did their best to capture its spirit into this new project without making it seem like a revival of the old structure.

Each of the two structures serves a specific function. One is the main house and the other is a guest shelter, allowing the owners and their friends and relatives to spend time together but also to enjoy their privacy at the same time. The rugged topography of the site was also a major source of inspiration for the design. The two houses were conceived as simple stone structures which blend in with the landscape and look as natural as possible in this setting.

Both structures are built into the hillside in response to the sloping site. As a result, the main house features a stone plinth as a base and a stone wall at the rear. A big stacked stone fireplace separates the private spaces from the public areas and the South-facing facade is mostly covered in large windows, offering a panoramic view of the surrounding areas. The roof has a deep overhang which goes over the open terrace, provides shade during summer and at the same time provides more surface for the photovoltaic panels installed on the roof.

The entrance to the guest house is on the upper floor where the common areas are situated. The lower level houses the bedrooms. It has its own stone fireplace and also a super airy dining area encased in glass which appears to be floating among the trees. As you can see in both cases, there’s quite a big contrast between the interior and the exterior of the houses which is part of the whole old versus new marriage that inspired this entire project.

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