Built on a rundown plot in an up and coming area located in the Northern part of Portland the Z-Haus is as much a social statement as a green house. Portland being renowned for its passion for sustainable living and green policies it seemed the perfect place to redefine what a suburban plot can be.
The architect of this interesting modernist duplex is Ben Waechter, who shares this duplex with relater Daria Crymes. The two wanted to send a message of urban renewal, reconditioning a dilapidated plot of land and constructing a modernist building that has the eco-credentials of any new European construction. In fact, Waechter spent some time working in Europe on beautiful yet energy efficient buildings before starting his own architecture firm called Atelier Waechter in 2008.
While boasting an unusual design compared to the other properties in the neighborhood the Z-Haus is perfectly aligned with the front and back end of the street line. This integrates the modernist building into the surroundings, and strengthens the architect’s idea that modern and eco-friendly can co-exist even in traditional suburbs.
Having to deal with a large plot made architect Waechter decide to design a duplex instead of a traditional home. This has led to numerous advantages, including reduced rain runoff as well as an easier insulation process since each part of the duplex needed to only insulate three walls instead of four. The shared wall also contains an air buffer to reduce the noise factor while increasing the ventilation and insulation properties of the house.
The exterior wooden cladding creates a durable sustainable front while also creating a common thread with the more conventional houses on the street, even though most wooden paneling is painted blue or green and doesn’t resemble the dark brown/dark grey of the Z-Haus.
The interior space is fluid and almost opened plan. It is comprised of a series of six identical 14 by 19 feet rooms that zig-zag up the building. They are all offset by a set of stairs, creating an opened plan living space, where residents could easily see or talk to each other regardless of what floor they are sitting in. The zig-zag pattern is where the home gets its name.
The core of the house is comprised of small rooms that harbor the kitchen, and several bathrooms and storage units. The interior is simple with white walls and light wooden flooring adding to the light quality in each room. The finishing is modern and simple with clean straight lines going through the building.