This project, designed by Johnston Architects, is two buildings in a wooded site outside Seattle. Much of the complex was built from blown-down trees, also providing a clearing for the buildings to receive sunlight in the dense environs. The main building, in the foreground, is partially bermed into the slope, opening up to the sunlight and shedding water and snow to the rear.
The other building, which sits at a higher elevation, has a similar shed roof, even though it is not bermed into the ground. Again, the tall space is oriented to the sun, though it is shifted relative to the main building so as to capture views past it.
This view from inside the main building reveals how the house opens up toward the clearing. Outside, the roof structure is all wood, but inside it consists of open joists made from steel and wood. These allow a longer span and give the open interior some character.
Not too far from the previous project is this house designed by Thielsen Architects. From this vantage point, we can see that the land slopes away from us, just as the roof does. "The house forms mirror the natural slope of the site," the architects describe, grounding the house and making it appear as a natural connection between the steep slopes above and below it."
Moving a little bit forward from the previous photo (the ribbon windows on the left are the same in both photos), we now see the lower level and the house's entry adjacent to the driveway. As the roof's angle follows the drop, the stone base steps down, acting as a planter.
Moving back up the slope and toward the other side of the house, we can see how well the house works with the landscape. Upper and lower outdoor zones are created, with the house's interior acting as the connection.
The more private side of the house has a patio adjacent to the lower level. The vertical element wrapped in the same metal as the rest of the house (different than the vertical element covered in stone near the driveway — the chimney) houses an elevator. It sits next to the stairs, which also face the patio.
One space that includes a roofline running in the opposite direction as the major volume is the master bedroom, visible on the far left in the previous photo. The space opens up toward the trees and view, with an elevation that is articulated with large windows, a sunshade and a clerestory window above.
Due to the slope, the houses are designed with retaining walls at the lower floors. Combined with the slope of the roof, this points to positioning service spaces (bathrooms, storage, stairs etc.) to the rear, opening up the front of the house for other spaces.
Here we can see one of those service spaces tucked in the rear of the house. Its location on the side wall still gives the bathroom some light and air, and a view of the other house in the development.
In front of a different bathroom is the bedroom, opened to the sky, like other spaces on the front of the houses.
Heading west to Minnesota, here is a house designed by Altus Architecture + Design that looks fairly orthogonal from the front, minus the yellow volume's sloping roof.
Moving around the house toward the rear, we can see how the land slopes away from front to back. The angle of the roof roughly follows this slope.
While the roof does follow the angle of the topography, I feel like the roof's incline is a formal maneuver, allowing the building to appear taller from the front and shorter from the back. Here we can see the bedroom under that roof. The slope is barely perceptible, but the bottom of the clerestory does set up a line for the top of the walls (a closet?) within the bedroom.
This last example is a contemporary design by Field Architecture in San Francisco, the aptly named Hillside House. Here is another project where the roof follows the slope of the land. Yet the key to the design is the wood deck that starts at this lowest level and extends up into the house.
Here is a better view of the deck, which is tucked under the opening and extends inside and up the stairs.
The flooring extends to the upper floor. In this photo we can see how the kitchen has side panoramic views of the trees and sky, thanks to the way the roof slopes down and away.