Notice something missing from my posts this month? If you guessed “a noteworthy green home in Washington State” then you’re right on the money. Normally, I try to feature at least one eco-friendly residence from my native state of Washington each month and not because of any "I'm from there!" bias. Last month, there were three: a LEED Platinum-seeking, rainwater recycling multifamily project in Seattle’s Fremont district, a LEED Platinum-seeking, prefab urban infill project also in Seattle, and a non-LEED Platinum-seeking green roofed dog house on Bainbridge Island.

The common tie between these projects and other green Washingtonian homes that I’ve featured in the past is that they’re pretty much all in and around the greater Seattle area (or in the San Juan Islands like this magnificent home) But what about green homes in Central and Eastern Washington? Do green homes exist in Washington that aren’t located on/have sweeping views of the Puget Sound?

Turns out, yes. And the home in question is quite a looker.

Designed by David Coleman Architecture, the Hill House is located in, somewhat oddly, Winthrop, a former mining outpost located on the North Cascade Highway in north central Washington.

I say oddly because Winthrop has a distinct architectural vibe of its own. Winthrop’s main drag is faux old west in style complete with an old time-y saloon, false-fronted dry goods stores gift shops, hitching posts, and wooden sidewalks. Basically, Winthrop is a tourist-trapping Wild West theme town … charming in a Frontierland kind of way and much more tolerable than the nearby faux Bavarian village of Leavenworth.

There’s no cheesy, old-time-y architectural flourishes to be found at the Hill House — it’s a strictly tasteful, eco-modern affair — although the home’s recycled steel-clad east wall “cuts into the land like a rusty blade, evoking the cultural history of the mining encampments found in the area and providing privacy from the adjacent country road.” The home, like many that are, well, situated in the middle of nowhere, is designed to blur the boundaries between interior and exterior spaces and boasts a killer (non-water) view. I’m loving the outdoor fire pit.

Sustainability played a huge part in the design and building of Hill House, which I assume is a second home because of its location in the outdoor-recreation-crazy Methow Valley and its modest size.

The architects themselves explain the various green elements of the home:

The Hill House is composed of a 20’ wide x 115’ long stepped platform, a shelter formed by the roof and east wall, and several gabion stone walls. It is sited on a long, narrow, rocky hillside, sloping gently to the south and steeply to the east and west. The building reads and lives like a habitable landscape, adapting to the changing seasons and needs of its occupants. In short, this is a modest, sustainable building with a big presence in a big landscape.

A light-framed, wood platform steps up the hillside and floats above it. Interior and exterior functions are delineated by a glass wall that wraps three sides of the structure. Finish materials are common throughout, blurring the line between inside and out. The result is a seasonally expansive structure, generous in summer (2200 SF), modest and efficient in winter (1100 SF).

The east wall cuts into the land like a rusty blade, evoking the cultural history of the mining encampments found in the area and providing privacy from the adjacent country road. It offers a defensive backdrop when viewed from the interior and, combined with the shelter provided by the roof, and warmth provided by the wood stove/fire pit, lends a primordial feel to the building that is unexpected in this thoroughly modern structure.

Gabion stone walls bridge between building and landscape, offering retaining, context and privacy. Construction waste was dramatically reduced by incorporating these walls, which are made from the spoils of the building’s excavations.

Sustainable materials, technologies and techniques are used throughout. Recycled steel, sustainably harvested wood, BIBS insulation in oversized wall and ceiling cavities, on-demand hot water, low-flow fixtures and convection heat are all employed. Fenestration is designed to encourage passive solar radiation in winter. In summer, roofs and walls are vented to dissipate heat, and large overhangs, combined with seasonally-deployed, exterior sun shades (made from the same fabric used to shield fruit trees on nearby orchards) protect the glass from summer sun. In addition, the building’s wedge shape and site orientation result in a solar chimney effect, encouraging natural ventilation and evaporative cooling.


Via [Design Milk]

The opinions expressed by MNN Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of While we have reviewed their content to make sure it complies with our Terms and Conditions, MNN is not responsible for the accuracy of any of their information.