The site is tucked away on a densely wooded parcel on Washington’s Bainbridge Island.
The Zema Redux house is the revitalization of a residence originally designed by prominent northwest architect, Gene Zema. The site is tucked away on a densely wooded parcel on Washington’s Bainbridge Island.
The overarching approach was to provide a ‘nudge’ to a home that had a lot of redeeming qualities despite being 40+ years in age. We often repeated the mantra ‘what whould gene do?’ and would employ similar design moves and methods prevalent in Mr. Zema’s work of that time period.
The first design problem tackled was a sunken interior courtyard that impeded circulation flow and the functional adjacencies of spaces. The awkwardness of this space was compounded by a leaky skylight that ran through the center. Our solution introduced a ribbon of concrete that filled the sunken courtyard to a level that allowed passage through it rather than around. This new concrete insertion also realigned the ‘hearth’ to the center of the house, functioning as the nucleus or core. To alleviate the leaky skylight, we vaulted the ceiling and created a double height volume that incorporated a north facing clerestory. The clearstory not only provides ample light, but also creates a visual connection w/ the outdoors and more specifically, the tall Fir trees beyond.
The existing dead-end kitchen was transformed from a dark corner of the house into a power-packed domestic wing that combines functions of a kitchen, mudroom, utility room, powder room and small home office. This was done by removing a dividing wall between the kitchen and an adjacent office. Circulation was controlled by inserting a block in the center of those spaces which the larger appliances (refrigerator, washer/dryer) were located in, leaving the perimeter free and clear.
An area on the exterior where new design was implanted was at the existing east deck. We increased its size and changed the flow to connect with the yard as opposed to the carport, which helped bridge outdoor and indoor spaces. A spacious full width stair spills from the deck to an outdoor firepit area nestled between the trunks of the surrounding Fir trees.