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International Wood Flooring to Get Crazy About

Mad About Padauk

"The client for this project is very much into a great deal of color,” says Tim Carlander of Vandeventer + Carlander Architects, the Seattle-based firm that designed the Mad Park Residence. “So early on in the design process we started to formulate the house around organizational principles. Then we assigned materials for those basic volumes.”

 Photography/Benjamin Benschneider
Photography/Benjamin Benschneider

The program required accommodating a family of six while serving as a platform for entertaining and displaying a growing collection of contemporary art. This dual need of housing a family and art led to the concept of "served" and "service" zones as the organizational tool for the home's design.

Zoning of functions also permit art and children to live side by side, together enriching the living space. “The padauk (Pterocarpus spp.) was chosen for two reasons,” explains Carlander, referring to the exotic wood specified for the flooring and cabinetry of the home. “One very functional reason is that padauk is a very stable wood and is listed as a very good material to use over a hydronic (in floor heating) system. So we had the technical requirement of picking a material that would not do a great deal of expansion and contraction.” The home also features significant south-facing glass. Despite shading elements Carlander knew it was important to find a material capable of withstanding temperature variation. “Aside from that, the padauk has such an extraordinarily strong color. It is an orangish-red that is hyper-intense. The client loved it, and that is why it was chosen over anything else.”

The home is comprised of four distinct elements: a glass enclosed main floor living area, a wood wrapped upper bedroom level, a steel sheathed "service" volume to the rear, and a cantilevered, stucco-clad office. “The ceiling and exterior are clad in Alaskan yellow cedar because it is very weather resistant. It is commonly used in boat building,” says Carlander. “It also has such wonderful coloring, very pale yellow with fine grain. But the Alaskan yellow cedar is more of a background color. It is not meant to call attention to itself. Unlike the padauk with its intensity of color and grains, you are just drawn to its wildness.”

Fundamental to the concept of the home is a linear, light filled gallery that extends the length of the house. “We used padauk in the more visible cabinetry on the main level, the piece between the dining area and the sitting area, as well as on the floor and in the powder room,” says Carlander. “It has a sense of being a little different.” This space separates the “served” from “service” functions on all floors, both in plan and section. “Both the Alaskan yellow cedar and the padauk are beautiful, woods. They worked well with the rest of the materials to define the concept of the home.” 

Where to Buy Padauk: Search IWPA's Online Directory for suppliers of padauk and other species, products or service providers.

Copyright© 2011 by the International Wood Products Association. Published by Bedford Falls Communications, Inc. and circulated to an audience of 20,000 architects, designers, distributors, manufacturers, and users of imported wood products in North America.

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