Honest workings behind the false walls.

Its appearance deceives as you approach. What is this–a compound of homes? Condominiums?

Neither. It’s just a modest-size new house on the rural outskirts of Portland, tucked between an old barn and workshop. But with bold use of just four wood walls–two low and flat-topped, two peaked and soaring overhead like western movie flats–architect William Church tied together the three otherwise-mismatched structures.

As a bonus, the walls set off some bright outdoor spaces that accommodate the gardening interest of the owners, Dr. and Mrs. Calvin Kiest.

Despite the illusion created by the new walls, the three structures are functionally separate. The barn is still a barn; the workshop has become living space, but is reached via a passageway.

The two peaked walls act as visual steps, bridging the considerable height differences from one building to the next. The two low walls help ease the way indoors: each contains a walkway opening, and each helps divide the open entryway into more intimate spaces.

Front walls screen an entry courtyard with formal landscaping near the house. Pathway plantings become less structured as they gradually merge with lush gardens farther away.

Walls, house, and workshop are faced with 1-by-8 cedar siding that’s overlapped with 2-inch battens to match the barn. The false walls are supported by a framework of 4 by 10’s; the two tall ones are anchored by beams bolted into the house framing.

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