Story at a glance:
- This housing was built to maximize underutilized space.
- A large cherry tree was preserved and is now a source of shade and privacy.
- Large windows give the home its name, with great vantage points overlooking the Seattle neighborhood.
When given the choice between walking down an alley or taking the street, most people prefer the latter, taking in manicured lawns and ogling their dream homes rather than experiencing the often less attractive wonders of an alleyway.
But take an alley shortcut in the Central District of Seattle and you might be surprised, as a large white cube seems to appear out of nowhere. You’ve stumbled upon The Lookout, the shining star of Hybrid’s project to reinvent a moderate lot for maximum housing capacity. It’s accompanied by three black townhomes called the Shake Shacks.
“Having grown up in the Texas suburbs where alleys were nonexistent, I have found Seattle’s alleys to be a space where the urban frontier still thrives,” says Robert Humble, principal architect at Hybrid. “While the city’s front yards typically show a mannered restraint, its alleyways are alive with experimentation and quirks, providing a valuable resource for urban infill development while testing new housing typologies.”
The Lookout’s elevation not only gives it its appropriately titled name, but it serves to allow for parking access below.
Views can be seen from the many glass windows from Linsday Windows in the open kitchen and dining spaces.
The project utilizes undervalued land, saves an existing mature cherry tree on the lot (providing leafy privacy and shade from the living room), and connects The Lookout to a set of three townhomes on the other end of the lot.
The building’s siding is low to no maintenance, and the white exterior pops in comparison to the black “Shake Shack” townhomes next door. “The Lookout proves you can provide a home that is, despite its size, difficult to describe as small—adding funk and character in a typically overlooked context,” Humble says.
Raised above the alley to provide parking, the 1,040-square-foot space includes an open living, dining, and 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. Combine that with a rooftop deck and the program creates a lightness and ease of movement not often associated with small spaces.
Project: The Lookout Location: Seattle, WA Completion: May 2020 Size: 1,040 square feet Architect: Hybrid Contractor: Hybrid Assembly Engineer: Malsam Tsang Landscape Designer: Glenn Takagi