Heliotrope Architects designs Leitz Studio a DADU in Seattle
Floornature readers are familiar with a very popular category of architecture in Seattle: DADU, an acronym for detached accessory dwelling unit or, to use the lay term, “rear cottage”. An architectural unit legally authorized on the property, but not inside the dwelling and which, in addition, must meet certain criteria. A DADU consists of a part or set of parts designed by an architectural studio, i.e. by professionals and not as a DIY project. The minimum land area required for a DADU is 297 square meters in the single-family zone and, on its own, the dwelling must not exceed 92.9 square meters of gross floor area in the residential zone or 60 square meters in the residential zone. low height. Currently, DADUs cannot be built in coastal areas. Additionally, a DADU must meet all Seattle residential, building, mechanical, electrical, and energy code requirements that apply to single-family dwellings.
In short, despite the fact that it is located behind a main house and on the same land, a DADU is a real piece of architecture it can’t be improvised. This category of principal residence expansion has allowed some densification of Seattle’s urban context and has seen the completion of a number of interesting design interventions, some of which we have already featured on our pages.
These certainly include the Studio Leitz DADU designed by Heliotrope Architects, a Seattle-based company known for low-impact, sustainable design solutions that enhance the places where they are built. Following the studio’s motto that “an exceptional place must be anchored in the present and committed to the future”, the intervention responds to the wishes of the clients, with great attention to the durability inherent in their work.
In this specific case, the project is for a DADU housing the freelance work studio of Aaron Leitz, a Seattle-based photographer specializing in interior design and architecture, who also often captures the work of Heliotrope Architects. The small 37 square meter building is located behind the Leitz couple’s residence in West Seattle and serves as photography studio and office for Aaron, as well as an exercise space for Kelsi, who is a professional Pilates instructor.
As mike mora d’Heliotrope Architects explains, the design brief called for a sky-lit studio that included a small powder room and a niche for a desk. Following the ideas of Aaron Leitz, not only a photographer but also an academic, philosopher, lover of the outdoors and the power of materials, dialogue with nature – both visual and material – plays a central role in the design.
A Douglas fir trellis between the studio and masonry storage block creates a weather-protected terrace with views across the house towards the Olympic Mountains. The terrace can accommodate a parked car if needed, as the building is adjacent to the driveway. In terms of materials, the building is clad in kiln-dried and particularly weather-resistant western red cedar (Thuja plicata) planks, as well as light cedar slats. The interior is finished with plaster walls, concrete flooring, plywood boxes and a curtain to control natural light.
Leitz Studio, built by Mētis construction, presents itself as a small architectural gem where working becomes a pleasant and fulfilling experience, literally at the doorstep of the owners.