So Inclined // A Happy Accident of Not Turning Back

By Alli Schuchman

If they had asked my opinion, I would have strongly urged them to reconsider.” But Daryn and Brooke Nakhuda sought no such input. By the time they met architect Matthew Coates, the pair had already taken a leap in the dark and bought the beachfront land where their home sits today.

Daryn admits the first time they saw the driveway leading down to the lot—a code-defying, toe-curling 50-percent slope—they were taken aback. However, after the pair made it down to the beach unscathed, the sparkling view of Seattle and the crash of the Puget Sound’s salty waves erased any question about where they wanted to build. They’d found home.

Determined to overcome the site’s significant challenges, the couple enlisted Coates, principal architect of Coates Design Architects, to hatch the plans for the two-story home. The entire process, which Daryn described as taking “a long two years,” produced their simple and clean, modern Pacific Northwest residence. The family, including two young children and one very, very old dog, moved in Thanksgiving 2015.

“This is one of those special projects where we were in total lockstep with the client’s concept from the beginning,” said Coates. “It seemed like we were always on the same page which made for a fun process.” Daryn agrees. “We had so much fun,” he said, “when we were done I joked that we should build another. Maybe someday.”

Two decades ago, long before the Nakhudas landed on Bainbridge, a landslide had piled dirt, mud and rock onto the site. To mitigate the damage, the former owners had drilled concrete-encased steel pilings approximately 50 feet into the earth to keep the land in place and their home safe.

By the time the Nakhudas purchased the property, the original home had been demolished but the pilings were still in place. Coates recognized their value and designed the new home to sit on top of them to stabilize the structure on the precipitous slope. “There is no question that the site itself was the most challenging part of this project,” said Coates.

“It required a great deal of creative and strategic thinking in terms of design as well as construction.” He noted that his team had to think about details like how materials would actually get to the site, some supplies having to be loaded into pickups or hand-carried down the steep driveway.

“That’s not something we normally have to account for,” he said. Coates noted that Clark Construction, the project contractor, capably tackled the difficult job and made the intricate pieces come together. “Having the right team makes all the difference.”

The component that took the most planning and effort—and the one that’s at the center of the home’s structural and visual core—is concrete. And there’s a lot of it. Concrete was used not just for the foundation, but for many of the architectural features too like two massive two-story walls, which tower from the basement floor to the home’s main level ceiling.

When it came time to pour, the crew ran a 4-inch steel line down the length of the driveway to pump the concrete from a truck perched up top. In total it took 20 full truckloads, a mind-blowing 180 cubic yards for the house alone. The driveway was extra.

Coates explained, “The concrete walls that flank the entry aren’t just a structural necessity, they are also the primary organizing element for the house. They frame the view of the water at the entry while denoting buffers between public and private spaces within the layout.”

Also unusual, the fire department deemed the home inaccessible, necessitating the installation of a sprinkler system, a development that required the Nakhudas to install a 1,500-gallon water storage tank. “There is no question that the site itself was the most challenging part of this project,” said Coates.

“It required a great deal of creative and strategic thinking in terms of design as well as construction.” He noted that his team had to think about details like how materials would actually get to the site, some supplies having to be loaded into pickups or hand-carried down the steep driveway.

“That’s not something we normally have to account for,” he said. Coates noted that Clark Construction, the project contractor, capably tackled the difficult job and made the intricate pieces come together. “Having the right team makes all the difference.”

The component that took the most planning and effort—and the one that’s at the center of the home’s structural and visual core—is concrete. And there’s a lot of it. Concrete was used not just for the foundation, but for many of the architectural features too—like two massive two-story walls, which tower from the basement floor to the home’s main level ceiling.

When it came time to pour, the crew ran a 4-inch steel line down the length of the driveway to pump the concrete from a truck perched up top. In total it took 20 full truckloads, a mind-blowing 180 cubic yards for the house alone. The driveway was extra.

Coates explained, “The concrete walls that flank the entry aren’t just a structural necessity, they are also the primary organizing element for the house. They frame the view of the water at the entry while denoting buffers between public and private spaces within the layout.” Also unusual, the fire department deemed the home inaccessible, necessitating the installation of a sprinkler system, a development that required the Nakhudas to install a 1,500-gallon water storage tank.

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