Susan Jones' Seattle CLT House Is a Wooden Wonder

credit: Lara Swimmer Photography/ Exterior

As noted in earlier coverage, It is the usual practice in covering architecture to wait until a building is complete before it gets published. However this house designed by (and for) Susan Jones of atelierjones was so interesting (and I have such a short attention span) that I couldn't wait and showed it under construction. Now the house is complete and Susan has moved in, and she has provided us with much better photos of the completed project. I said at the time that "it is also going to be stunningly beautiful." And it is.

credit: Lara Swimmer Photography

The house is built of Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) panels and clad in one of my favorite materials, Shou sugi ban, where wood is treated with fire, leaving a charred finish that can protect it for years.

credit: Lara Swimmer Photography

The house is on a crazy small triangular site (see the plan here) with the second floor cantilevered over a parking spot. I wonder if Susan, like so many other architects I know, bought a diesel VW because they were greener.

credit: Lara Swimmer Photography

The interior is almost entirely exposed CLT, giving it a warm, woody, cottage like feel; only the kitchen is enclosed in drywall. A thick blanket of insulation is applied outside the CLT and protected by the exterior siding.

credit: Lara Swimmer Photography

The rooms are essentially defined by the notch cut out of the side of the triangle, providing natural light to the dining room and living room.

credit: Lara Swimmer Photography

I wonder what the acoustics are like in the wood-lined space; CLT makes for very quiet spaces, it absorbs sound differently than conventional walls.

credit: Lara Swimmer Photography

Triangular rooms are really tough to furnish. Fortunately Susan isn't trying to squeeze a monster sofa into the living room.

credit: Lara Swimmer Photography

Up the stairs to the second floor.

credit: Lara Swimmer Photography

Hallway and master bedroom. The CLT acts as both the structure and the finish, which sounds like it makes things easy but there is not much room for error and it's not easy to fix mistakes. Electrical wiring is a challenge too; in Austria they rout out channels in the middle layer of the CLT like a giant circuit board. Susan essentially wired the whole house from the outside, drilling through the CLT. It's not the optimal solution, drilling all those holes through the wall, particularly if you want to seal the house up to Passive House standards.

credit: Lara Swimmer Photography

Then there is this wonderful detail, where Susan designed this pattern of holes in the wall that were routed out by the CNC machine in Penticton BC, I wonder what they were thinking when they were asked to do this. It takes such terrific advantage of the material and the tool, casts a wonderful light into the space while providing privacy in the bedroom.

credit: Lara Swimmer Photography

People walking by outside must wonder what is going on as well, seeing these big windows with something happening behind them.

credit: Lara Swimmer Photography

There are so many things to love about this house. The way it made use of such a difficult site. How it went together like a house of giant CLT cards. The quality and feel of the wood. They way Susan used it in such unusual ways, from the wall with the holes to the skylights in the bedrooms. The shou sugi ban exterior, the healthy materials.

credit: Lara Swimmer Photography

Really, from the bottom up to the lovely roofdeck, Susan Jones has designed a house that sets a new standard of how you build with sustainable, renewable and healthy materials. See the earlier slideshow here and all our posts on wood construction and CLT here.

credit: Lara Swimmer Photography

Really, from the bottom up to the lovely roofdeck, Susan Jones has designed a house that sets a new standard of how you build with sustainable, renewable and healthy materials. See the earlier slideshow here and all our posts on wood construction and CLT here.