This small Oriental looking outbuilding in the back yard of a residence in Portland, Oregon's Mt. Tabor neighborhood was the centerpiece of a client's ambitions for a Japanese style garden. The structure adhered to classic dimensional proportions and featured a Japanese soaking tub.

From the ground up

The building landed visitors in stride with walking paths, a step above the garden. It gave the floor a solid-feel by anchoring 12-inch floor boards on 10-inch joists fastened to cast-in-place concrete walls, and it solved visual, comfort and multi-use goals by setting the soaking tub at floor level in a below-grade crawl space.

With a lack of access to the stone, timber and handiwork of Japanese carpenters, the design approximated the simple lines and exposed wood of a hand-crafted timber structure by using select grade dimensional lumber, MDO plywood. For strength, details hid steel reinforcing inside the wall panels. This permitted an interior space with lots of daylight through glass on four walls and two trolley-type sliding doors.

I carried the wood theme upwards with exposed headers, rafters and split cedar shake roofing. The design ventilated moist warm air out of the building through openings on either end of the roof ridge. Sheet metal ridge caps, gutters and upside-down stirrups protected exposed wood from weather and provided an opportunity for simple ornamentation.


Building design and contract documents.

Role: Landscape Architect

Setting: Freelance

Location: Portland, Oregon

Year: 1990

Media: Pencil on 8x11 laser printer paper.