"From the outset, Willow Ponds was conceived as an integrated living environment, not merely a collection of houses. The goal was to seamlessly harmonize a small number of homes with their surroundings -- and with each other." Here's how we approached this challenge.



design

The goal at Willow Ponds is to design and build the 'right sized' home, the right way, on the right site. The homes at Willow Ponds are deliberately designed and sized to be not so big as to be difficult to afford and maintain. In fact, careful design allows us to build smaller homes that actually function better than the unnecessarily large houses that are now so common. The smaller home size allows us to put our resources into quality, not quantity. For more information on small home design visit the sites we have listed in our related links.

Another benefit to smaller homes is that their footprints (the amount of land the buildings themselves cover) occupy a smaller percentage of the total land area. The feeling becomes less crowded and more spacious for all Willow Ponds residents.

The homes at Willow Ponds are designed to please and delight their owners. The architecture of the homes echoes themes and details from the abandoned farm buildings on the site and from the many historical buildings in the Hood River Valley. Integrating contemporary and sustainable building practices are encouraged.

environment

The overall approach to the environment respects and responds to the existing vegetation, topography and natural features such as the rejuvenation of the stream that flows northwards through the site. Over time this stream formed a beautiful little pond. Rather than attempting to divert or channel the stream flow, we decided to preserve the stream and create two additional ponds. We then defined a protected commons around them. This park corridor that runs roughly north-south through the site.

The Willow Ponds commons provides a natural place for walking trails. By making the stream and ponds into a protected and accessible common area, we will insure that the stream and pond environment will always be there for the pleasure of every Willow Ponds resident. These natural habitats are also important to protect the existing wildlife and foster future wildlife and native plants in Willow Ponds.

landscaping

In order to work well, the Willow Ponds concept demands close attention to landscaping details. Each home is sited so as to take maximum advantage of views, but to do so without crowding or intruding upon its neighbors. The right sort of plantings, in the right places, enable us to provide both views and privacy without the need for unsightly and confining fences. Where possible, native plantings are encouraged to promote less water usage and increased wildlife habitats.

covenants, conditions & restrictions

Willow Ponds is very sensitive to the fact that Codes Covenants and Restrictions (CC&R's) must be drafted carefully. They require a precise balance. If they are too strict, they will leave home owners feeling unnecessarily constrained. But if they are too loose, the value of the original vision for Willow Ponds will erode over time. Please take a look through the Willow Ponds CC&R document and Design Guidelines. We believe that we have found the right balance. We hope you'll agree.

infrastructure

As we designed Willow Ponds we took time to really think about how the infrastructure could be used to support the design goals of the project as a whole. Here are some examples:

  • Street levels are kept depressed relative to the land around them. This lowers the visual and noise impact of auto traffic and helps to hide some of the asphalt.
  • Streets are deliberately kept narrow. This serves to slow traffic speeds.
  • On-street parking is allowed only in specified street parking areas, many which are sprinkled around Willow Ponds. (However, homes are provided with adequate parking so as to minimize the need for on-street parking.)
  • Dedicated pedestrian paths meander through Willow Ponds. This helps keep walkers and bicyclists away from auto traffic.
  • Common areas are created to promote personal well being where friendships between neighbors will foster.
  • Where possible, we encourage homes to be built using environmental materials. The materials range from recycled and reclaimed materials, energy efficient windows and appliances, solar heating, hot water on demand units, and more.

neighborhood

Willow Ponds has been designed to encourage a neighborhood feeling. That feeling comes only as the result of doing a large number of small things well. Here are some of the ways we encourage neighborhood and community at Willow Ponds:

  • Willow Ponds is pedestrian-friendly. People who walk tend to talk with each other.
  • The use of fences is tightly limited at Willow Ponds. We provide privacy by the use of good landscaping, earthen berms and careful choice of home sites. These provide privacy without the isolating feeling that long straight fence lines create.
  • Public gardens are provided where neighbors can enjoy time together. Events like the Neighborhood weed days and landscape clinics are provided to encourage working together. Involvement as a group in public projects like the Community Trail System are embraced.