When you bestow a building project with a name like Scavenger Studio, it better tout an abundance of salvaged and spared-from-the-landfill materials.
Thankfully, the woodsy Washington state cabin in question doesn’t disappoint.
Designed by Les Eerkes of Eerkes Architects, Scavenger Studio is one part tranquil Puget Sound retreat, one part sustainable design showcase — a grassroots demonstration that some of the most distinctive works of modern architecture have been built largely from old bits and parts. In this case, said bits and parts were materials salvaged from slated-for-demolition homes including cabinetry and even plants.
(Note: While Les Eerkes designed Scavanger Studio, it was completed while Eerkes was a principal at Olson Kundig, the celebrated Seattle firm specializing in rough-hewn yet elegant structures that seamlessly meld — most of the time, anyway — into the Pacific Northwest landscape. Therefore, Olson Kundig, not Eerkes Architects, is the architect of record with this project.)
As detailed by Dwell, Scavenger Studio was built for Anna Hoover, an activist and artist who heads the nonprofit First Light Alaska. She envisioned the space as being a "thought refuge, a room with a view to sit and contemplate future projects and reflect on recent travels and interactions."
This is certainly a nice departure from the norm in this particular semi-rural stretch of the south Puget Sound, where civic life largely revolves around the local marina and where residential properties, whether perched directly on the water or nestled back in the woods, are often used as summer homes for boat-owning families hailing from Tacoma and Seattle.
Measuring 693 square feet, Scavenger Studio features a cantilevered sleeping loft that gives the entire boxy structure an almost RV trailer-esque appearance. This is heightened by the fact that the entire cabin floats above the ground on six concrete blocks — at first glance, I thought the building was perched atop wheels. The cabin was raised to help drive down the costs associated with excavation and to leave as light a footprint as possible on the land.
The cabin’s exterior is clad in both HardiePanel cement board vertical siding and charred plywood panels, charred by Hoover herself with a propane weed torch to achieve "the desired tonal value," according to the architect. Inside, the materials are pared-down, durable and unfussy: Masonite floors, plywood ceiling, drywall walls, a steel staircase leading up to the sleeping loft. A woodstove provides heat while making "the modern structure feel that much homier," Hoover tells Dwell.
Full-height and clerestory windows flood the double-height interior with natural light and provide a lovely view of an inlet poking through the trees. Like with typical projects associated with Olson Kundig, the abundance of windows further blurs the boundaries between Mother Nature and the built environment.
Wrapped in floor-to-ceiling windows, the sleeping loft also features a nifty feature: a hatch door, painted in fire engine red, that drops down to better invite the outside in. "It's a fantastic way to ventilate the space, but also makes sleeping in the loft feel like camping when it's down," Eerkes tells Dwell.
Hoover and her friends performed most of the salvaging work themselves, a process that almost always involves persistence, patience and plenty of dumb luck. In this case, Hoover appears to have been successful on all fronts and was able to incorporate numerous reclaimed materials into the home’s design.
"The process of reclaiming these plants and items and giving them a new life and home is fulfilling on many levels," Hoover tells Dwell. "Easier on the pocketbook and the environment — and you receive the benefit of a good workout."