Portland Residential Architect - Kalispell Residential Architect - Whitefish Residential Architect

Five Square is a renovation of a 1910 “Foursquare” house a historic housing typology in the Northwest region.



Fivesquare simultaneously respects and transforms a single-family housing type prevalent in the early twentieth century in Portland, Oregon. The project is a renovation of a 1910 “Foursquare” house a historic housing typology in the Northwest region. These houses are typically organized around two primary load bearing walls that cross to create four symmetrical spaces on each floor. While simple and inexpensive to build, the living spaces in these houses lack hierarchy and a sense of generosity. The owners asked us to create a more open living environment and also add a studio/work space in the unused attic area. 

The design seeks to satisfy the clients program requirements by leveraging the qualities of the existing structure with a contemporary approach to open living space that combines kitchen and living areas. The primary bearing wall that runs down the center of the house was thickened with utilities and storage and then punched with two large openings to create primary living spaces that takes advantage of the full width of the house.The exterior was restored to bring back the original character of the wood house that had been obscured by vinyl siding. 

The design also explores the tension between keeping the iconic reading of the house at the street and a contemporary approach at the roof. A new wood stairway brings daylight to the second floor landing and connects to the third floor studio that is rotated to take advantage of the views of the Portland’s West Hills. The attic space is transformed into the “Fifth Square”, a box like structure that rises from the roof and is clad in charred cedar to integrate with the asphalt shingle roof. Full height windows cut into each side of the box are a direct expression of existing roof geometry. A ceiling mounted projector and a drop-down screen allow the space to convert into a mini-theater in the evening.