Wyss Family Container House Mercer Island

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New Mercer Island House, Lake Washington Dwelling, Wyss Family Residence, US Residential Property Photos

The Wyss Family Container House Mercer Island

Oct 27, 2020

The Wyss Family Container Residence on Mercer Island

Design: Paul Michael Davis Architects

Location: Mercer Island, King County, Washington, USA

Wyss Family Container House Mercer Island

Photos by Mark Woods

New Residence on Mercer Island

The Wyss family approached Paul Michael Davis Architects with a vision to design a bold, unusual, and adventurous addition to their existing ho-hum 1950s split level where they could raise their 3 active boys. And they really loved the idea of re-purposing shipping containers.

New Mercer Island House Lake Washington

Wyss Family Container House on Mercer Island Lake Washington

The clients, Balthasar + Stephanie Wyss, asked the house be designed to fit into the style of the existing traditional neighborhood, while at the same time integrate new, contemporary elements.

Wyss Family Container House Mercer Island

Wyss Family Container House Mercer Island

The remodel should reflect the unique history and development of the Seattle area and Pacific Northwest, key themes include:

• The roots of the Pacific Northwest as a place of vast untouched forests and the wilderness of the Cascades and Olympic mountains
• Seattle as center for global trade and a door to the Pacific and Asia
• The region as a technology hub with hi-tech companies and global retailers
• The international roots of the Wyss family (Basel, Switzerland)
• The design should be a communal gathering place connecting various parts of the house in a simple flow with a living room and kitchen at its centers; at the same time there should be ways to have quite areas for contemplation and reflection.

New Container House Mercer Island USA interior

The firm found lots of great examples of buildings made entirely from shipping containers. But in this case, in which most of the existing house was going to stay in place, and the neighborhood had a clear vernacular language, placing a big stack of shipping containers next to it seemed like the wrong move.

Container House Mercer Island utility room

Instead, the firm opted to treat the containers more like found objects, even artworks. PMDA designed a simple rectangular volume on the west side of the house to create an informal entry courtyard and, more importantly, serve as a neutral container for the containers. The new addition has a garage on the street side, and a large multi-purpose space which steps down with the topography.

New Mercer Island House Lake Washington

The project required a greater level of collaboration with the contractor than normal, as many of the things we were trying were completely novel, like welding together 3 shipping container doors and putting them on a 30-foot-long sliding track.

Dick McDonald and Roger Reynolds of Karlstrom Construction, and their team of about 25 subcontractors all rose to the occasion, inspired by the chance to try something creative and new, as well as rectify some unfortunate mistakes in the original house.

Wyss Family Container House Mercer Island USA

Now that the Wyss family has moved in, the shipping containers serve as both a backdrop and functional necessity for their lives—the giant sliding door can divide the living space into two when sound or social separation is needed, the indoor container houses a small bath and mud room that get daily use, and the outdoor container is ready to be a work from home retreat.

Wyss Family Container House Mercer Island

New Residence on Mercer Island – Building Information


Architect: Paul Michael Davis Architects
Landscape: Performance Landscape Company
Shipping Containers: ITS ConGlobal
Structural & Civil: Trans Olympic Engineering Inc.

Contractor: Karlstrom Associates

New Wyss Family Container House on Mercer Island USA


Name: The Wyss Family Container House
Clients: Balthasar + Stephanie Wyss
Location: Mercer Island, WA USA

Scope: Garage and Family Room addition and extensive remodel of a 1950s house on a wooded suburban site on Mercer Island’s south side. The project includes the incorporation of two repurposed shipping containers.

Area: 3200 SF

Images: Mark Woods

New Mercer Island House Lake Washington

Wyss Family Container House Mercer Island images / information received 271020 from Paul Michael Davis Architects

Location: Mercer Island, Washington, USA 


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