Othello Gardens: Wittman Estes’ Modern Take on Seattle Multi-Family Homes
In Seattle’s evolving Othello Gardens neighborhood, Wittman Estes brings to life a civic-minded multi-family housing project that effortlessly weaves density with urban charm.
A far cry from mundane townhomes, Othello Gardens marries innovation with heritage, honoring Seattle’s Rainier Valley roots while offering residents access to verdant spaces reminiscent of the area’s historic gardens. Designed to enhance walkability and community interaction, these townhomes nod to the legacy of the land, while showcasing sustainable practices crucial for urban living in America’s iconic Pacific Northwest.
About Othello Gardens
Redefining Multi-Family Living in Seattle
Seattle’s Othello Gardens neighborhood is currently undergoing a profound change. Transitioning from single-family homes to denser, multi-family mid-rises, the demand for quality middle-income housing has inevitably soared. Historically, this neighborhood boasted social and economic diversity. However, recent developments often fall short, neglecting both character and nature access. For this reason, the project aimed to intertwine housing density with the urban charm. The primary focus? To elevate the walkable, transit-friendly neighborhood and simultaneously boost street interactions along 43rd Avenue.
Comprising 11 units, these townhomes introduce three distinct layouts and facades. Bound by a cohesive, robust material palette, they stand out. Furthermore, green pockets on rooftops, balconies, and ground levels echo the lushness of nearby Othello Park. Ultimately, the design, incorporating durable materials and green thresholds, offers the community a warm, inviting architectural experience.
Honoring Rainier Valley’s Roots
The developer, alongside his two sisters, nostalgically recalls growing up in a single-story farmhouse on this very property. Back in the 1940s, Rainier Valley, on the outskirts of Seattle, exuded a rural charm. Fast forward 60 years, and the landscape has dramatically shifted. Othello now blossoms as a bustling urban hub, offering seamless downtown Seattle connectivity. Inspired by this history, the clients envisioned a housing community echoing the bygone days of farms and gardens. Consequently, they championed the inclusion of abundant garden spaces and resilient, locally-sourced materials.
A Sanctuary of Native Flora
The housing ensemble masterfully balances public and private realms through its thoughtful landscaping. Petite trees and shrubs dutifully shield the lower rooms, while taller trees grant coveted privacy to upper levels. Notably, gardens are richly planted with native, edible species, fragrant blooms, and vivid foliage, ensuring year-round vibrancy. Moreover, the uniquely designed bioretention planters double as efficient rainwater reservoirs, nurturing wall-climbing vines. As seasons change and residents come and go, these patches will organically evolve, reflecting varying preferences and moods.
Elevating Urban Greenery
Each townhome unit, in its design, introduces residents to three dedicated layers of green: ground, balcony, and rooftop. Additionally, an inviting porch graces the west building’s street-facing units. Ingeniously designed, these planters not only adorn the premises but also function as vital rainwater harvesters. Employing permeable pavings and grasscrete, the design ensures purer groundwater and dramatically reduces neighborhood runoff. Such green interventions, besides uplifting the local Puget Sound ecosystem, promise cleaner air. Lastly, a community garden, nestled snugly in the northeast corner, beckons gardening enthusiasts with ample space, seating, and essential supplies. In essence, Othello Gardens stands as a testament to a greener, richer urban experience.
Photography courtesy of Miranda Estes
Visit Wittman Estes- by Matt Watts