Plum Circle

Portland, OR
An Inspiring New Neighborhood Ecosystem

A recipient of Columbia Land Trust’s Certified Backyard Habitat designation and recognized by the Audubon Society, the hillside residential landscaping is drought resistant. It requires little maintenance—mimicking a Northwest natural setting that will become an ecosystem unto itself. Knot’s dedication to the client’s vision rendered a design that shows how sustainable landscape design and architecture can work harmoniously to meet artistic and functional goals, inspiring a new and beneficial aesthetic within its neighborhood.

The Plum Circle Residence showcases a seamless fusion of regional plantings with ultra-modern hardscape elements that deliver a cohesive design statement. Design features include a rich array of Northwest plantings that offer the homeowner dramatic views of an ever-evolving landscape. Hardscape design elements, such as concrete planters and beautifully designed pavers, work in harmony with a major mid-century Modern home renovation in Southwest Portland. The design reflects a dedication by the client and the Knot design team to showcase the highest levels of sustainability.

Located on a prominent neighborhood corner and challenged by a north-facing lot that features a steep slope down to the street, Knot drew from a rich palette of West Coast plants, trees, and shrubs. Grasses and sedges, accented by perennials and ground covers, give the design an organized appearance from the street level while also allowing the client a proper amount of privacy. Hardscape features, including planters near the residence’s front entrance, add texture and lightness to the overall design. Fractured fin patterns on retaining walls adjacent to the sloped driveway and pavers along the home’s street-facing facade complement the residence’s stunning design in their shapes and use of materials.

In the Plum Circle project, sustainability goals also translated to the need to address a significant issue for Portland residences – the abundance of Juniper shrubs. A pivotal decision to remove large amounts of Juniper to clear the way for sustainable plantings signaled the need to address the issue of fire safety where dense Juniper once flourished. The importance of the Juniper removal was highlighted by the fact that millions of acres of forests burned in the summer of 2020, and Juniper posed, then and now, a significant fire threat to denser city neighborhoods.

Knot worked closely with the client during a multi-year renovation that saw the original 1970s home taken down to its studs. Inspired by mid-century Modern residential design, the client sought design elements that produce both openness in daylighting and adhere to the highest sustainability standards, such as using an energy recovery ventilator.

Los Angeles architect Cory Buckner, famed for her mid-century modern restoration projects, delivered a re-design with large, north-facing windows that bathe the interior with natural light while also affording the resident’s viewpoints that take in the rich array of plantings designed by Knot.

5,000 sq ft
Cecilia Weber and Jan Allebach
Cory Buckner