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Design notes on the Whidbey Island FabCab

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The Whidbey Island FabCab is complete!  Since only a few of you have gotten a chance to see it in peson, we thought you might like to know the story behind the photos we recently shared on Facebook.  From the shape to the detailing, from the cedar siding to the standing seam metal roofing, from the clean modern style of the bathrooms to the bright, open kitchen, this house is pure FabCab.

Like most FabCabs, the Whidbey Island Home began with one of our standard plans, the 1337. This plan was customized through a careful process of design to the exact specifications of our clients: a couple looking to build a small home next to their daughter’s house.

The home has a modest street side presence, offering privacy to its inhabitants while presenting a fresh face to visitors. The galvanized corrugated metal siding complements similar siding on the daughter’s house next door. Galvanized metal details tie together the roof and siding in classic Pacific Northwest style.

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Let’s step inside…

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What here is standard in a FabCab? For one, that beautiful exposed Douglas Fir timberframe is a signature material in all of our homes. So is that feeling of light and spaciousness – a result of those grand windows set directly into the timberframe and the high ceiling that draws your eye up and out. The large open plan brings together all of the social spaces in the house, allowing each room to borrow space from its neighbor for a much larger feel. In fact, there are many little design highlights that work together to make this relatively modest-size house feel surprisingly large.

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Moving through the house, we can also see what has been customized. Working closely with the homeowners, we reorganized one wing of the house into a comfortable master suite, with a large, light-filled bedroom.

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An ample walk-in-closet with laundry facilities opens into a clean, modern master bath. The European style, zero-threshold shower flows seamlessly into the rest of the bathroom space, making the entire space feel bigger (another FabCab standard detail).

The second bedroom behind the kitchen became a flexible home office, sewing room, and guest bedroom. At FabCab, we love multipurpose spaces like this that give the homeowners more “bang for their buck,” complete with those grand windows to bring light deep into the room.

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…and what beautiful windows they are. While the street side of the house is private and modest, the back of the house throws modesty aside and opens wide! These huge windows bring in copious southern light and sunshine, something we all celebrate here in the Pacific Northwest, especially this time of year. They also open the entire house to expansive views out across the private lawn and into the woods beyond. This is indoor-outdoor living, Pacific Northwest style: all the light and views with less of the cold and damp.

The Whidbey Island Home: a beautiful home, customized for a perfect fit for years to come.

Spacious. Modern. FabCab.

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FabCab Architect in Africa


(photo courtesy of Chelsea Gorkiewicz)
Written by Chelsea Gorkiewicz, FabCab Architect

For the first two weeks of April, Chelsea will be in the Moshaweng Valley area of the Kalahari Desert in northwest South Africa. She will be lending her design expertise to the planning and design of a new school and community building called the Skills Development Center.

Chelsea will be part of the Kalahari Experience, which is a service project initiated by Frankfurt International School (FIS). Since 1991 teams of high school students and teachers have been working with the Tswana people in the Moshaweng Valley in South Africa, which is an isolated area in the Kalahari Desert. Most of the 10 villages in the Moshaweng Valley are accessible only by unpaved road. Many of the people in this area are not original residents, but were “displaced” during apartheid. They were sent to this semi-desert area that is now home to approximately 30,000 people. It is one of the poorest areas in South Africa.

The Kalahari Experience brings together teachers and high school students from collaborating schools worldwide to participate in bringing specialized, targeted instruction in English to the underserved community schools in the Moshaweng Valley. At the same time, participating students gain understanding and empathy of cultural diversity, historical and political influences, and challenges faced by residents and students in these communities in South Africa.

Through her husband who teaches at FIS, Chelsea has gotten involved in the development of a new Skills Development Center sponsored by FIS. The new Skills Development Center will be located in Padstow, a small township that has been voted poorest town in South Africa for the last four years. There’s a basic preschool and primary school building in the village, but there is no middle or high school. The community needs a new school and community building to support secondary education, adult learning and job skills development.

Chelsea will be gathering information in the community and at the building site, meeting with community leaders and materials suppliers, and preparing a schematic design for the new Skills Development Center. She hopes to implement sustainable design features throughout the project, including: rainwater collection systems and vegetable gardens, composting toilets, a kinetic playground to help pump well water, and building materials sourced within South Africa that can be assembled using local unskilled labor, bringing much needed jobs to the community.

Check back at the end of April for photos from her trip to South Africa and more information about these projects!

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