ADU and you



The closet in our multi-purpose guest room is stacked with old CDs and DVDs. Most the music was long ago downloaded to laptops and iPhones. The DVDs were watched – many of them over and over again – but now those boxes of shimmery discs stare accusingly at me. I know some of them are scratched so that they skip or snag or stop altogether. There’s “A Christmas Carol” Scrooge permanently stuck in grumpy mode, and a yoga master who can never get beyond a basic downward dog. To make matters worse, they’re crowding out houseguests who want to hang up their clothes as opposed to keeping them crammed in suitcases.

Now, inspired by the unlikely trinity of NW Natural Street of Dreams, Portland’s Bureau of Development Services, and two French artists, I imagine putting those shiny discs to new use.

Each of the five homes on the Street of Dreams tour includes an accessory dwelling unit or ADU. That’s fancy pants talk for the extra living space formerly known as mother-in-law apartment, guesthouse, studio or nanny quarters. The city of Portland offers tax breaks for adding ADUs to existing homes to encourage urban density and builders have responded with some remarkably creative solutions such as repurposing garden sheds, train cars, and old shipping containers into homes so cute you want to put them in your pocket. And so tiny they’d almost fit.  Trouble is, I don’t have a spare garden shed, train car or shipping container. I’ve got CDs. Then I stumbled upon in Paris, and by that I mean came across on the Web, a remarkable installation by artists Clémence Eliard and Elise Morin.  They stitched together 65,000 CDs and DVDs by hand and draped them over inflatable mounds resulting in what looks like a small park of mirrored rolling hills. With a little more oomph, the the-soon-to-be-totally-obsolete-petroleum-based-discs could make some all-weather igloos or super swank geo-domes.  And when houseguests grew bored, they could dismantle a portion to listen to ABBA on compact disc.

Check out the ADUs at the NW Natural Street of Dreams — aw heck, check out the entire house while you’re there — because the popular home tour has been extrended through Labor Day. Expect to be wowed.

Alas, no CD igloos.


Hours: 11am – 9pm (the ticket office closes at 8pm)
Tickets: $12 general admission; Children 10 and under are free
General Information: No backpacks or strollers allowed in the houses
Directions: About 14 miles southwest of downtown Portland, the NW Natural Street of Dreams parking area is located off of SW Bull Mountain Rd near 144th Ave






Picture above from top:

The art installation by Eliard and Morin in Paris, France

The Brentwood Homes house at NW Natural Street of Dreams in Tigard, Oregon

Interior of the Dreambuilder home at NW Natural Street of Dreams 2011