It is an ideal experience to work collaboratively with architects, builders, and clients as a holistic design team from the earliest stages of a project. Working in this way, we are able to leverage our professional expertise to ensure that a home feels settled in its context while taking maximum advantage of the landscape’s latent dynamisms. It is especially wonderful working with engaged clients who come to the table with ideas, enjoy discussing possibilities, and remain open to suggestions.
The magic of this home is its location on the eastern slope of Spencer’s Butte. The design team specifically sited the home to capture views of the Three Sisters and Mt. Jefferson, soaring in the distance over Camas Swale Valley below. The location presented challenges equal to its sensational views. The steep slope threatened to make any structure feel precariously perched on a hillside. However, because former logging activity had already significantly disturbed the landscape, we were able to sculpt the earth in order to form one large, level area for the entire home complex.
To reach the site, the driveway gently climbs the slope in wide arcing curves. The alignment of the road effectively keeps approaching cars from intruding on the views. Located at the same finished grade of the house, the generous entry courtyard accommodates parking for cars and tractors. The covered walkway directly adjacent to the court connects the garage to the home while also serving as a threshold to the front entry sequence.
Once out of their cars, visitors follow the curving paved walkway through a basin-like garden room. On hot summer afternoons, cool air from the Butte’s tall forests comes rushing down the slope, creating a distinct microclimate. The planting palette engages in seasonal conversation with the rust-red tonalities of the Corten steel of the façade and the iron-rich soils. The concave quality of the garden allows for diverse uses including home concerts, when the basin performs as an amphitheater.
Once guests enter into the home designed by architect Bob Haase and constructed by Camas Construction Company owner Eric Vance, large windows reveal the view across the valley – finally revealing the view just beyond the outdoor terrace. Architectural lines embedded in the interior floor extend through the walls and onto the concrete paving pattern of the terrace. These lines form the zigzag geometry of the terrace, resulting in a collection of smaller rooms, each subtly framing a slightly different aspect of the panoramic view.
Plantings are interwoven with the paving. The wind animates the drifts of grasses, echoing the patches of meadow on the valley floor. Herbs are planted in the spaces between the house and the terrace, within easy reach of the kitchen. An abundance of lavender provides ample ingredients for home soap making.
Because the terrace stretches across the eastern face of the house, sunrise and sunset become special times to celebrate the garden. In the morning, the sun warms the patio for morning coffee taken outside. Later, as the sun slips behind the Butte, the evening light plays across the snow-capped peaks on the horizon. This connection to the larger landscape situates and grounds the home, reinforcing its truly unique location.
Architect: Robert Haase
Builder: Camas Construction Company
Photography: Anne C Godfrey