If you are a lover of lighting and industrial design – and you frequent Inhabitat – you may know the Seattle-based design studio Graypants for their recycled cardboard Scraplights. These innovative lamps have popped up everywhere – and now Graypants has a reason to celebrate other areas of their practice. They recently were awarded a 2013 Honor Award for Washington Architecture for their “Garage” project located in Vashon, Washington. The scope of this innovative project was to renovate a tired, post-World War II garage, and they succeeded by creating a simple yet mysterious building that pushes design boundaries through a poetic infusion of passive sustainability and modern technology.
The Garage is located in Vashon, an island southwest of Seattle that sits in the Puget Sound. The project sits on the shores of the sound, and the building opens up on all sides to let in the views and the colors from the surrounding landscape. The existing garage was dismantled and it exposed a rich story and history for the design team at Graypants. Therefore, they salvaged portions of the structure. Old fir boards became the floor and other recessed lounge spaces. Natural daylighting and passive ventilation techniques are used during the day to keep energy consumption low. Interactive LED panels help to light the interior at night, and this creates a wonderful and imaginative scene against the backdrop of the Pacific Northwest’s skies.
The Garage is a speakeasy, a lounge, a meditation space, an artist’s studio, and a granny unit. It is all of these things and none at the same time because of the flexible nature of the space. It is brilliantly elegant like a multifaceted jewel, and yet it is simple and modern. The mystery of the design process allowed for something truly poetic to be expressed, and the AIA Seattle chapter surely saw this. Graypants included a great clip of poetry in their submission, which is an expression of the Garage:
“This distance between pane of glass, eye’s sight the far waving green edge of tree, sun’s reflection, light yellow and sky there too light blue. I will sit here till breeze, ambient, enfolds me and I lift away. I will sit here as sun warms my hands, my body eases, and sounds grow soft and intimate in my ears. I will sit here and the back of the house behind me will at last disappear. I will sit here. Wet water warm fire. Rough wood cold stone. Hot coals shining star. Physical hill still my will. Mind’s ambience alters all.” – Picture, Robert Creeley (1926-2005)