2022 AIA Housing Awards: Divine House by Landry Smith Architect

Overlooking a dramatic bend of Oregon’s McKenzie River, the Divine House is a case study in crafting a compact, well-built structure. Built over a year by a small team of local carpenters with only the most basic elemental materials, the Divine House explores the area in which familiar form and construction methods intersect with modern detailing and future resilience. 

With a rectangular footprint and a gable roof featuring deep overhangs, the home is directly organized down the centerline of the plan. Its northern half contains the smaller and more cellular programs: a carport, entry, combination guest room and study, and the primary bedroom. The opposing half, which includes the living and dining areas, kitchen, and adjoining covered deck, is entirely open. 

Interior spaces are defined by a series of “solid” volumes that support multiple routes and unrestricted movement throughout the home. The positioning of these volumes reinforces the organization and helps establish the distinct spatial character of each half. The result is a compact 1,500-square-foot plan with large living and outdoor space on one level that allows the owner to age in place before passing the home down to his children.

“This design exemplifies the ambition of a simple and modestly scaled home elevated to notable levels of design by a commitment to craft and materiality.” – Jury comment 

The team understood the intended legacy of the home from the outset and envisioned it as a 200-year or more structure. To that end, the construction methods and material palette are robust and require little maintenance. Perhaps the home’s most prominent feature is its corrugated metal roof, which sits above a grid of battens that also functions as outriggers on the gable ends. Downspouts were purposely omitted, allowing water to flow directly off the roof’s corners to be collected in a below-grade catch basin. The exterior, designed to reduce thermal bridging and offer protection from wildfire, is clad in black pine-tarred cedar.

The material theme continues inside, but with plain-sawn white oak boards finished with simple hardwax oil in place of cedar. Throughout, a lowered array of joists adds an air of intimacy to the spaces, giving the home a robust sculptural quality while also boosting thermal performance. The team of carpenters completed nearly all of the required work, from rough framing through finish carpentry.  

“This design exemplifies the ambition of a simple and modestly scaled home elevated to notable levels of design by a commitment to craft and materiality.” – Jury comment 

The Divine House sits quietly in the rural and rugged Oregon landscape. Decidedly low tech, it exemplifies the potential of slow architecture. 

Divine House

Architect: Landry Smith Architect

Owner: Roscoe Divine

Location: Eugene, Oregon

Category: One-  and Two-Family Custom Residences

Additional information

Architect: Landry Smith Architect    

Structural Engineer: Munzing Structural Engineering    

General Contractor: Jay B Construction    

Framing and Finish Carpentry: Green River Construction    

Metalwork: Hanset Metal Fabricators    

Lighting: Solus

Photography: Jeremy Bittermann


Etty PadmodipoetroAIA, Chair, Urban Idea Lab, Boston  

Kenneth LukerAIA, Perkins Will, Durham, N.C.

Marica McKeel, AIA, Studio MM Architect, New York  

Patricia Leigh Brown, New York Times, San Francisco  

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