Built on Stilts: Alleyway House Is an Elevated Box

If you've got it, flaunt it.

house on stilts
House on Stilts in Seattle. Rafael Soldi

In many cities that have tentatively welcomed laneway housing, there are strict rules about height, privacy, and form. There are so many restrictions on redevelopment to protect single-family houses that it is impossible to replace them to get more units. So I was pleasantly surprised to see this project in Seattle where a house was replaced by three townhouses, and behind them on the back alley, a bold box on stilts with big views.

Kitchen and dining
Kitchen and dining area.  Rafael Soldi
"Raised up above the alley to provide parking, the 1,040 square-foot space includes an open living, dining, kitchen space with expansive views, a full bathroom, hall storage and flexible space with movable wardrobes to allow for either one large bedroom, two smaller bedrooms, or a bedroom and office mix. And of course, there’s a rooftop deck! The program creates a lightness and ease of movement not often associated with small spaces."
View of townhouses
View of Townhouses.  Alex Herbig

It's designed by Hybrid, an interesting firm that is an architecture practice, builder, and developer, and which I have admired since I first saw their early shipping container building years ago. Here you can see it sitting behind the three Shake Shacks, "solar powered hi-tech homes wrapped in a natural cedar shake shell." There is a courtyard between where they maintained a cherry tree.

Corner windows in apartment
Corner windows with view.  Rafael Soldi

There's lots of talk about how "missing middle" housing, where you get this kind of development, can help ameliorate the housing crisis in cities like Seattle or Vancouver. As Elsa Lam explained in Canadian Architect:

"Building more of these types of housing, say advocates, will help to increase affordability by providing new ownership and rental opportunities. And building more densely, particularly in established neighbourhoods, will also contribute to the sustainability of cities, by putting people within walking and cycling distance from workplaces, schools and other day-to-day needs."
view of house from lane
View from alley.  Rafael Soldi

The problem is that it costs so much money to build small units on small sites, they are always really expensive. But still, it's wonderful to see four units (and some rentable "flex spaces") where there used to be one.