My prospective client arrived, in a flurry of creative energy, just as the building in which I have my office was beginning its annual open house, the Tour de Vance. Along with my officemates Cascade Bicycle Club we had three kegs of Fremont Brewing’s finest ready for our guests who had begun to file in. My prospective client had flown in from Tokyo to investigate the idea of building a Passivhaus here, and having my office design it. It was a wild start. I connected her with Dustin van Wyck, who specializes in finding auspicious land on which to build houses in Seattle. My client also searched the interwebs, and between the two of them they found a number of interesting sites, all of which I checked out for suitability for her needs and for ease of Passivhaus. I was initially skeptical of the site Lakeridge Park, as it had a very low Walkscore, but I am fond of Lakeridge Park itself, and once I visited the site I was won over. The landscape, though very overgrown, had a feel much like nearby Kubota Gardens, which I love. Fantastically, it turned out that it had in fact been done by that Kubota. Al Kubota was hired to do the landscape design, carrying on the work of his grandfather. There was evidence in the existing house of care and craft as well. Glass art built into the railings, wood assemblages hung on walls. The place had a good feel. I took lots of photos, and we Skyped extensively about the location. Site unseen, my client bought the house. Several months later, she visited Seattle again, and we spent the day together, visiting the site and talking with the contractors I recommended and a couple days later, she left again for Toyko.
The entire design process took place over the ‘net. We were able to put ArchiCAD’s BIMx to good use. BIMx allows our clients to view the design of their project virtually, and navigate through it using controls simliar to a video game. I also did screen sharing with her via Skype, which proved extremely useful. We went through a couple iterations of the design, and then got ballpark prices.
Just after we had begun a refinement of the design shown here a death in the family halted her plans to move to Seattle, and the project was scrapped.