Located on Camano Island in Washington State, the Tsunami House was built by Designs Northwest Architects to withstand conditions not normally faced by a residential property. The main level features a foundation capable of withstanding high velocity tsunami wave action, while the lower levels were built with walls that are able to break away in the event of a storm surge. Built with durable and low-maintenance materials, the house is perfectly equipped to weather any storm.
In order to avoid the full force of a tidal wave, the architects decided to locate the main living level nine feet above grade, which left the lower level to act as a multi-purpose space dubbed the ‘Flood Room.’ A steel staircase constructed of bent plate steel leads from the lower level up to the main living area, which combines a kitchen, living, and dining room.
Light is an important aspect of the design, facilitated on the lower level by clear glass overhead doors that open up to the waterside deck facing north, and translucent overhead doors that open up to the entry courtyard facing south. The master bedroom located adjacent to the great room also features sliding translucent doors that let light into the space and open up to the water view.
The architects also integrated an above ground sand filter drain, which is encased in three foot high architectural concrete walls and covered with a pervious sun deck. The combination of drain/deck also acts as a visual barrier between the road and the house to provide additional privacy when all of the overhead glass doors are open.
The exterior of the house is made from durable and low-maintenance materials. Architectural concrete columns are left exposed, while the exterior siding is a mixture of composite and galvanized standing seam panels and aluminum windows. The lower level floor is polished concrete with radiant in-floor heat, and the ceilings are covered with western red cedar to add warmth to an otherwise industrial appearance.
Images by Designs Northwest Architects