A Glowing Modernist Home Nails the Balance Between Light and Privacy

Architect Ben Waechter's Pavilion House brings modernist calm and design flair to Northeast Portland.

By Zach Dundas March 23, 2015

Ben Waechter's clients wanted an urban house, completely open to its yard, flooded with the natural light of a modernist "glass house." But they also wanted privacy. What to do? The architect behind new-minted Portland modernist gems like Tower House and Oakley House turned to the simplest of conceptual inspirations: a dining table.

"Having lots of glazing and sun was really important to them," the veteran of Renzo Piano's workshop and Allied Works says, "but they didn't want to feel like they were living in a fishbowl. It could almost be imagined as a four-legged table, with the main room under the table. The four legs also create privacy."

Pavilion House, the concept made reality, packs a spacious family home—its three second-floor bedrooms each have their own full bath—into 2,300 square feet set on a modest Northeast Portland lot. Using the four legs of his conceptual table as functional volumes, Waechter stashes residential necessities, like kitchen, storage, and stairs, into discreet spaces flanking the bright, open-plan central living room. "For the stairs, you step up and into one of the volumes, which really strengthens the experience of being either inside or outside a particular space," he says. "Meanwhile, the voids within that form are the main space. You define the spaces with volumes rather than walls."

Check out the slide show above to step inside this bright example of forward-thinking Portland neighborhood life!

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