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The nature of THE PLACE

  • Established SE Portland mature neighborhood.

  • Smallish size backyard.

  • A sculptural and ornamental dogwood tree in the rear yard that needed to be retained defined the space between the house and tree where the ADU could be located.  Needed to be a delicate project.




  • Create a very small (250 SF) backyard living unit that could be versatile for them – for a parent, guest, rental, art studio, office.

  • Add a loft space.

  • Full-size bathroom with roll-in shower and ADA accessible.

  • Full-size kitchen.

  • Make the small space feel larger than it actually is.

  • Energy efficient design.

  • Focus on the south direction / tree and that section of the backyard.


  • Wedged between the house and existing ornamental tree, a simple, modern space with a shed roof.

  • Intimate scaled to the tree and intimate scale inside.  Focus south and at changing tree.

  • Brought in a refined wood interior detailing that feels like exterior natural backyard space.

  • Windows focused and bring in plenty of natural filtered light thru the tree.

  • Full size kitchen, full size “wet room” bathroom, open living area.


We were looking for an architect to design our new 250 sf energy efficient backyard ADU. Our backyard is small and we wanted to locate the new adu so that it faced a small dogwood tree in the corner of the backyard. This also provided us with the needed privacy between the new adu and our home. Daniel Lajoie with Departure Architecture was great to work with. The design that we came up together located a small sleeping loft above the living spaces. Most of the windows face the dogwood and along with the overall volume created in the space, our little adu feels so much larger than it actually is. Daniel also showed us how we could design and build an extremely energy efficient adu with our given budget and helped us to hire the right contractor. For others considering projects, we would highly recommend working with Departure Architecture. 

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