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Nesting in Nature – Windows for the Soul

New Energy Works Timber Frame Home

 

Drawing inspiration from a home in Sweden that is encased in a one-of-a-kind greenhouse shell, this Scandinavian style glass and timber home is a marvel of minimalist engineering, European construction techniques, and good old fashioned American craftsmanship.

New Energy Works Timber Frame Home in Oregon

“The background on this project is that my partner and I sold everything we had in 2020 and bought a van, moved our family into the van, and decided to drive around the country,” said Katie Lesh, the homeowner and Interior Designer on the project. “Our ultimate long-term goal was to build a house, and we knew we had to kind of sell everything we had to make it happen.” 

New Energy Works Timber Frame Home

“In France, where I am from, timber frame is considered an old style that is not slick or sleek, it’s very heavy. But the use of modern technology allows us to move past the traditional methods of timber frame and construct sleeker designs and expand the range of possibilities in what we can do with timber. This house was simple yet challenging with the timbers and so many windows all coming together in a minimal aesthetic, very European in its approach.” - Quentin Olivier, Engineer – New Energy Works

New Energy Works Timber Frame Home in Oregon

 

New Energy Works Timber Frame Home Oregon

 

Driving across the country with her family in an RV during the 2020 pandemic gave Interior Designer Katie Lesh plenty of time to dream of a comfortable home that could truly connect with the natural world. Based on a ten foot by ten food grid system, the home features a large two-story timber frame volume with as many windows as possible that help link the interior space with the surrounding woodland property.

New Energy Works Timber Frame Home

 

New Energy Works Timber Frame Home in Oregon

 

“We worked with our architect, Kenneth Wilson Architecture, and drew up some ideas, going through the whole design process while we were still on the road. They we found a two-acre wooded property with no water or electricity, no utilities at all, which we purchased while we were on the road sight-unseen,” Katie explained. “Our architect came up with the structure for the main living area, and the whole house is kind of based on a ten-foot grid concept. We had seen this style of house a lot in Europe with large two-story volumes that were really simple looking, but obviously not simple to build. We wanted that feeling of a very large, open, naturally lit space that made us feel like we were living outside.”

New Energy Works Timber Frame Home in Oregon

 

New Energy Works Timber Frame Home in Oregon
“We built a glass house; we are the least private people ever. People ask us if we are worried about people seeing what we are doing, and we are just not at all. We don’t even think about now, we just live our lives, and it is kind of cool when people are walking by and trying to glance in, which just means they are interested in our lives.” - Katie Lesh, Homeowner & Interior Designer
New Energy Works Timber Frame Home

 

New Energy Works Timber Frame Home

 

New Energy Works Timber Frame Home

 

“The style of the house was different than what is typical for a timber frame, and it didn’t have any cross-ties at all, the home being mostly just timber and glass. We were asking the team to incorporate all these minimal glass windows between each of the posts, which was really hard to figure out,” Katie continued. “It took a couple of conversations to get it right but engineer Quentin Olivier from the New Energy Works team is from France and has this great level of experience with European building methods, and he came up with the solution to make the project work by using specialized screws, rods, and steel plates. That got everyone really motivated and excited to move forward.”

New Energy Works Timber Frame Home in Oregon

“The architect did a great job designing this very modern home, it is very beautiful, similar to a minimal steel frame design, but as every timber framer knows it is impossible to do what a steel frame can do with timber! But with the use of a self-perforating dowel (or more generally a steel plate and dowel) which is a very common solution for this type of structure in European glulam construction, we could make it work. In my career working in Europe, I have seen a lot of big frames with a crown or grouping of pins near the post, so the solution came from that knowledge. European technology! That’s what saved the day and made this all work.”  - Quentin Olivier, Engineer – New Energy Works

New Energy Works Timber Frame Home in Oregon

 

“When the New Energy Works team was on-site putting up the frame, we would make them lunch & dinner, and set up a place where they could go and sit down and drink water, which was really cool to be able to do,” Katie mused. “We had a little outdoor kitchen on our RV and we told the team they could make themselves at home. They really felt like family by the end of it because we were all basically living here together through most of the build.”

New Energy Works Timber Frame Home in Oregon

 

“We didn’t anticipate how close we would become to the New Energy Works team when we started this project. I could tell how important our project was to them, and I am sure all of their projects are, but I felt like they really cared about our house and put everything they had into it,” Katie continued. “It was emotional after the raising; we were all having champagne and talking about the timber frame, and I wasn’t expecting how close we would all feel and how emotional the process would be. It was such a wonderful experience.”

 

New Energy Works Timber Frame Home in Oregon

 

“We have been in the house since March of 2023, and just watching the property evolve and the light change with the seasons has been so cool. I look around every day and think this house is so amazing. It is really inspiring being in this space, surrounded by nature and wildlife,” Katie concluded. “Our daughter knows that this is a unique space, and knows when her friends come over to visit, they are reacting to how special the house is. She loves being able to see out all the windows and connect to the surrounding landscape, and that’s what we wanted for her, to grow up surrounded by nature in that way. We really built this house for her to have a really inspiring childhood in, and I can see us living her for a very, very long time.”

New Energy Works Timber Frame Home in Oregon

 

 “It all really goes back to that house from Sweden that inspired us, we wanted as much glass as possible and to feel like we were living outdoors. We have this beautiful property and wanted to feel like we were one with nature on it. We had just spent all this time driving around the country in our van, mostly living outdoors, and we wanted to have that indoor-outdoor relationship with our home.” - Katie Lesh, Homeowner & Interior Designer

See our case study: Nesting in Nature | New Energy Works

 

Project Credits:

Architect: Kenneth Wilson Architecture

Interiors: Katie Lesh Design

Builder: Layline Design + Build

Engineer: Eclipse Engineering

Photography: Clarity Northwest Photography