ARCHICAD Helps Achieve a Responsive & Assimilated Design

The tiny hamlet of Mazama, located in Northeast Washington’s Methow Valley provides a haven for nature lovers and outdoorsy types. Families from the Seattle area take advantage of the location’s year-round appeal. One such family hatched a plan to create a vacation/retreat home, humble in scale, but full of high-quality architecture. Putting the environment and esthetics in the forefront of their vision, they selected Seattle-based, Cast Architecture to come up with a design for what would become the Ranchero House. ARCHICAD“The client expressed strong interest in being able to house their family and friends – like family,” recalls Cast Architecture Principal Tim Hammer. “The resulting home provides a cozy place to enjoy the surrounding landscape and natural surroundings. We limited wall space, using windows as much as possible, allowing the colors and outlines of the meadows or mountainous vistas serve as artwork.” That responsive and assimilated design both embraces and is consumed by the environment. The occupants can relax and escape their hustle and bustle, by feeling at-one with the outdoors even while inside. Hammer says the team of architects at Cast began with a schematic design in ARCHICAD, laying out the rooms and spaces of the home, a common approach to their projects. “Through the schematic phase we tend to start out with a broad spectrum of 3D options. As we mix and match those choices, we get to hone in on the best path. As plans tighten up and we shift into design development, that’s when we feel ARCHICAD is used most heavily.” ARCHICADCAD Image Tools play an important role during this phase as well. “The add-on package from CAD Image gives us wall coverings, different trim options, so that we can quickly mock up various ideas and share them with our client. We’ve fine-tuned this process so that it moves us quickly into the construction phase.” A demanding deadline meant this project required responsive and speedy design. The family purchased the property in mid-January and wanted to begin building by that summer. On projects with quick deadlines, such as the Ranchero, the firm relies on Teamwork to collaborate and share work within the office. ranchero-9“Given that turnaround, we went full steam ahead to make sure we had all the necessary permit drawings in to the county by the spring. We had two staff members working it at the same time – so Teamwork was a huge help in managing our deliverables.” The home contains ample living space with floor to ceiling windows in the main common rooms, there are also three bedrooms – including a master suite – so there is plenty of room for everyone. However, the family’s main goal with the building envelope and the home as a whole was to avoid maintenance projects. Their words to Cast Architecture – give us a “bomb-proof” home – though they never once were fearful of any airborne dangers. “They really were specific about not wanting to have to paint it, take care of it, repair it. So we chose the concrete skirt as a base that wraps the whole house. This helps with the two to five feet of snowfall that can be present at any given time. Seasonal temperature fluctuations necessitated sturdy construction – because that zone gets hammered during the freeze-thaw cycles of that region. Concrete removes worries about rot or replacement. Ultimate durability also comes from steel siding by Cor-ten that is made to rust to a point and stabilize. The result is a patina that blends in with the nearby grove of aspen trees, with their blackened trunks.” ranchero-2The home’s great room takes advantage of natural light, letting in as much of the sunshine as possible. Here again, the home displays working with and capitalizing on an element of nature the family missed in their home in Seattle, which tends to be dark and gloomy for months on end. The windows are thermally broken double pane wood clad aluminum by Sierra Pacific. The house has a super insulated roof and walls that are 8-inch thick. The lower portion of the home has a spray foam wrap and the walls are filled with blown fiberglass. ARCHICADEnvironmentally speaking, the home is very efficient. It features a passive solar strategy. To take full advantage of so much sun in the wintertime the home is aligned with East West access. The veranda entryway is built with a concrete slab on grade with hydronic radiant heat. The depth of the eave allows a lower angle from the winter sun, which heats the slab, keeps ice off the entry way and acts as a thermal mass. The home’s owners proved the effectiveness of this system with a wireless temperature sensor unit. Through remote monitoring of temperature and moisture via an online connection, they collected data over the course of one winter to see how well the passive system was working. “On the coldest days of the year, the boiler – which is programmed to turn off at 55 degrees, operated from 2 AM until 10AM. There’s enough heat gain from the sun so that the home is in the low 60’s by noon.” Cast Architecture has created an energy efficient, maintenance free harmonious living environment at the Ranchero House.

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