Fivesquare simultaneously respects and transforms a single-family housing type prevalent in the early twentieth century in Portland. The project is a renovation of a 1910 “foursquare” house, a historic housing typology in the Northwest region. These houses are typically organized around two primary load-bearing walls that cross to create four symmetrical spaces on each floor. While simple and inexpensive to build, the living spaces in these houses lack hierarchy and a sense of generosity. The owners asked us to create a more open living environment and add a studio/work space in the unused attic area.
The design explores the tension between keeping the iconic reading of the house at the street and a contemporary approach at the roof. The attic space is transformed into the “fifth square,” a box-like structure that rises from the roof and is clad in sugi ban to integrate with the asphalt shingle roof.