Colman Triplex by Workshop for Architecture | Design

October 14, 2009

Workshop for Architecture | Design have completed the Colman Triplex in Seattle, Washington.

Full description after the photos….

Colman Triplex by Workshop for Architecture | Design
3,750 sq.ft owner-occupied three-unit apartment building in Seattle, Washington.
Completed in 2009

A 40’ X 100’ inner-city lot that slopes eight feet from west to east. The property has views of downtown Seattle across a park that lies both to the east and north. To allow each dwelling to inhabit a specific portion of the site, the sloping topography was reshaped into two distinct levels.

The design was informed by four primary considerations:
– economy of space within strict land use limitations
– variations in individual dwelling program and configuration
– direct access to landscape and exterior space
– exploration of the exterior cladding screen


Within a primary box-like form the design team responded to budget and strict land use limitations on building height and lot coverage to configure three separate dwellings that each provides direct and visual access to landscape and exterior space. The organization of the dwellings are free to rotate or flip as each flat responds directly to different program requirements and varying visual and physical landscape connections available at each level of the structure.

Instead of constructing apartment flats based on an organizational typology reliant on a series of stacked bearing walls, an internal structural steel frame is used to provide interior bearing. The frame is secondary to the spatial organization and connections of each dwelling and is therefore concealed within the non-load bearing walls.

Through operations of subtraction, larger scale spatial relationships are made between interior and exterior spaces. These operations create both apertures, openings that provide daylight and visual connections between inside and out, and porches, or habitable covered exterior space. Derived through both activity and environmental criteria, these apertures and porches are used to control sunlight and rain while filling the spaces with daylight. A broad horizontal array of windows connects the upper dwelling’s main living space to the sky and distant view. A private interior light-well brings daylight and a private landscape into the master bathroom. Entry porches, similar to the historical fabric of neighborhood, both buffer and connect the adjacent park to the open living spaces.

A horizontal 1×4 exterior cladding rain-screen wraps the projects. Variations of the screen are used to preserve the initial figure and simplicity of the rectangular box.

Project Team

workshop architecture|design
Steve Bull, AIA LEED ap
Dan Rusler
James Steel

Interior Design
Christiane Pein, LairDesign

Structural Engineering
Todd Valentine, HSV Engineers

General Contractor
Lair, LLC