The midcentury-modern home in Portland’s West Hills commanded a coveted view: a verdant forest by spring and summer, skyline and mountain by winter. Trouble was, the daylit basement, complete with a swimming pool, sat neglected for many years. By the time Portland firm Fieldwork Design & Architecture inherited the project, it was a grim throwback to the ugliest parts of the ’70s: closed off from that outdoor wonderland by awkward columns and clunky doors, surrounded by off-putting and cluttered spaces.
“We wanted to take the worst part and turn it into the best part,” says Fieldwork’s Cornell Anderson. “You have this beautiful landscape, and the architecture was just in the way.”
The firm deleted the existing series of doors in favor of a single door. This change demanded a substantial structural change, as old columns disappeared and the ceiling was subtly raised to create a space that flows into its outdoor surroundings. Inside, Fieldwork adopted materials present in the home’s renovated upper story but also wrapped the room in warm cedar to cinch the connection to the forest outside. Emphasis on both surroundings and materials reflects Fieldwork’s larger approach: The firm focuses as much on hands-on creation as on design and concepts.
“In architecture, there’s a habit to be really aware of fashion, on the one hand, and an ideal of timelessness, on the other,” Anderson says. “Our way of doing things kind of takes us out of that cerebral place. You have to feel things.”