US firm Works Progress Architecture has created a residential building in Portland with gabled roofs, which help it stand out from the conventional boxy structures that are emerging in the Oregon city.
Langano Apartments is situated within the Buckman neighbourhood, known for its tree-lined streets, restored bungalows, artisan shops and trendy restaurants. The 30-unit building is situated on a corner along Hawthorne Boulevard – a major thoroughfare – and occupies the site of a former restaurant and basement lounge.
“The project was initiated as a retirement investment by an ageing couple who single-handedly operated an Ethiopian restaurant in an old house on the site for over 25 years,” said Works Progress Architecture, or WPA, which has offices in Portland and Los Angeles.
“We assisted them in a strategy of reverse engineering a proforma for the project based solely on the equity they retained in the land. The contractor offered required liquidity, and a community barn-raising, of sorts, occurred.”
Rather than designing a standard box, the architects wanted to create a building that would have a distinctive appearance and would respect the scale of its neighbours. Working within a “highly restrictive budget”, the team conceived a structure consisting of three, gabled-roof forms that rise up from a retail podium.
“We reduced the architectural vocabulary of the building to reflect its very simple program distribution, as well as creating a vehicle to stitch the scale of the larger building with the adjacent single-family houses and duplexes,” the studio said. The design also enabled the team to use prefabricated building systems and finishes, which helped reduce costs.
The team set the gabled-roof form nearest to the street corner at a slight angle, for both functional and aesthetic purposes. The shift in the massing resulted in a sliver of open space – a void that enables daylight to penetrate deep into the building. It also broke up the southern facade and gave a “more nuanced face to the urban corner”, the studio said.
The upper portion of the building is clad in white panels of varying dimensions, and also features different-sized windows that help enliven the facade. “Large, upper-storey windows create an asymmetrical theme,” the team said. The ground-level retail volume is wrapped in wood and glass.
Encompassing 9,500 square feet (883 square metres), the building contains studios, and one- and two-bedroom apartments, along with thirteen parking stalls. The building’s location is also a draw for car-free residents.
“Langano’s proximity to public transportation and bike greenways are attractive to working professionals and students aiming to make their commute into downtown,” the team said.
Other projects in Portland include the transformation of a former sailor’s lodge into The Society Hotel, and the construction of an office building by Holst Architecture that features curvaceous cedar facades.
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