Nomcraft Brewing, Aridagawa, Japan

Over the past 5 years we have been working with the small rural town of Aridagawa, Japan to help develop ideas to revitalize the town. Our work began with a series of community engagement workshops and led to the renovation of an old nursery school building into a new commercial and community hub. Over the past couple of years this work has started bearing fruit, with new businesses moving into the renovated school building, and new young people moving to the town. This all came together in July for the first Nom Nom Beer garden event, celebrating all of the new businesses.

One of these businesses, NomCraft Brewing, was a direct result of the community work we did. A couple of Americans heard about the efforts in Aridagawa to revitalize the town and contacted us about moving there to start a NW style craft beer brewery. They partnered with some of the local town residents and local business owners and after a year or so of work, they finally got the brewery up and running!

We returned to Aridagawa in the heat and humidity of early August to check in on the progress and attend the opening event for the Nomcraft Brewery. It was an amazing event and it was an incredible feeling to reconnect with all of our friends there, and see the community gather around this new business and the Living Room project as a new social hub for the town. The slideshow above gives a glimpse into the first event that will now be a monthly occurrence. We encourage everyone to travel to Aridagawa to check it out and taste all the beers!

Two upcoming Portland Modern Home and ADU Tours in June!

There are two upcoming Portland Home Tours during the month of June with our Wedge ADU featured.

  • 2019 Portland Modern Home Tour

The first tour is the 2019 Portland Modern Home Tour on Saturday, June 1st from 11:00 AM - 05:00 PM. There is a total of 8 homes to see on this day!! More details here:  http://www.portlandmodernhometour.com

Meet the architects, see the homes, get great ideas, GET INSPIRED!

Come meet Propel designer Nick Mira who will be on site during this time to share some project background and inspiration for this design. Use the link below to purchase a $5 discounted ticket: https://mads.ticketbud.com/portland2019?pc=PROPEL19

  • June 2019 ADU Tour

The second tour is the 6th Annual ADU Tour on Saturday, June 22nd from 11:00 AM - 04:00 PM. There is a total of 17 ADUs on this tour!!! More details here:  https://accessorydwellings.org/adu_tour/

Tickets can be purchased here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/build-small-live-large-portlands-6th-accessory-dwelling-unit-tour-tickets-55267730269

The Wedge ADU

The Wedge ADU

Why We Build Luxury Custom Homes in Portland, Oregon

Propel Studio’s goal is to deliver inspiring and beautiful homes for our clients. As local custom home architects, we are inspired by the beauty of the context in which we design, respond to the unique lifestyles and needs of our clients, and pride ourselves on creating luxurious spaces to live in that are timeless in their beauty and enhance the experience of their inhabitants.


For us, the beauty of each of our projects lives in the materials and the details. We always strive to celebrate the inherent beauty in high quality materials. Quality, durability, and high-performance is what we consider when designing and selecting finishes, fixtures and other materials for each project. We look to the life-cycle costs as we design, balancing the upfront budget with the ongoing cost of energy, water use and maintenance. This is how we define a true luxury home.

Propel Studio starts each design by understanding the context in which the house will be built. Our goal is to make each project unique to the landscape and the environment it lives in. Being in the Pacific Northwest means we are constantly designing to address the unique aspects of our climate and weather patterns.


This includes addressing the winter rains, the moderate springs and falls, the beautiful (although sometimes hot) summers, and of course the beautiful light that changes with each season. We design the envelope (exterior walls and roof) of each project to be high-performance, addressing the need for insulation, shedding water, shading the summer sun, and standing up to the elements all while creating a comfortable and efficient indoor environment.

We also look for ways to connect home interiors to their surroundings through window placement, outdoor living areas like balconies, outdoor kitchens, decks and patios, and operable door systems that can make interior rooms transform into feeling like extensions of the outdoors.

The importance of this indoor/outdoor connection mirrors our belief that true luxury is sustainable. We are committed to making architecture that has a minimal impact on our environment through our holistic approach to sustainability.


A luxury custom home in Portland doesn’t have a set design style and neither do we. Instead of imposing a particular style on a project, we start by understanding the site, the landscape, and the unique needs of our clients. This forms the foundation of our design work and we then develop a project that responds specifically to those influences.

This approach sets Propel Studio apart from other custom home architects. Each of our projects are unique. We experiment with forms, materials, and technology to ensure each project responds to the client’s needs while creating inspiring and beautiful architecture.

Are you ready to start your luxury custom home design? Contact us or schedule a consultation.

Why ADUs Are A Great Benefit To Portland Neighborhoods

This article was first published in “Hey Neighbor!” the neighborhood newspaper published by NECN.

Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs, are secondary residences that can be built on any residential property in Portland and many of the surrounding communities. As housing costs continue to rise, many neighbors search for affordable housing for themselves or loved ones and ADUs can provide wonderful places to live while being much cheaper than buying a house in today’s market. They are also great ways to earn rental income for homeowners, potentially allowing people to stay on their property even if the neighborhood gets more expensive. In short, ADUs are great investments that help build wealth and provide much needed housing. They can be an important part of creating diverse and thriving communities.

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At Propel Studio we have been working in neighborhoods throughout Portland over the past six years to help people navigate the design, permitting and construction process for ADUs. We find ADUs to be great ways to address our housing shortage, while preserving the neighborhood character that we all enjoy.

Here are a few reasons we think ADUs are a great fit for Portland and something that everyone should consider adding to their property:

  • ADUs create opportunities to provide housing while preserving neighborhood character.

  • ADUs are sustainable, by doubling down on residential areas with existing infrastructure and services (preventing urban sprawl).

  • ADUs give homeowners an opportunity to capitalize on their current investment (their property) to build wealth, provide passive income, and help people plan for retirement.

  • ADUs allow for multi-generational living and aging-in-place

  • ADUs are a popular way to downsize while remaining in the community you’ve grown to love.

  • ADUs can be designed to be low-maintenance.

  • ADUs can be designed to be net-zero energy use - meaning your energy bills could be close to $0.

  • ADUs can be cheaper to build than buying a new house to live in.


Most of the time ADUs are detached buildings (like a backyard cottage), but an ADU can also be created within a renovated basement, attic, or garage. Each property and family is unique, so we work with our clients to talk through all of the options available and find the best solution to their situation - based on budget, existing conditions of the property, and what their goal is for the new structure.

Like any investment, there are costs associated with these. ADUs are not cheap - we find they cost between $170,000 to $275,000 depending on the size, complexity, quality of finishes, etc. This cost is relatively similar regardless of whether you are building new or renovating an existing space. Renovating basement or garages into an ADU is not necessarily cheaper than building a new as often it is more complex to work within an existing structure. In general, new, detached, ADUs are the simplest to build but we have worked on all sorts of ADUs over the past few years.

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We are passionate about ADUs as they can be economic, social, and environmentally sustainable housing opportunities. If you have any questions or are considering building an ADU, we offer a range of free resources on our ADU page, and free consultations at our office.

To help people financially plan for building an ADU, we have developed a simplified proforma spreadsheet that estimates the project costs that need to be considered. This worksheet allows you to play around with various costs and variables and see the impact on the total project cost.

How Our Experience with Yogurt and the Feds Will Help Us Create Your Perfect Commercial Office Design

Portland, Oregon is experiencing a renaissance of sorts. Construction of all types is progressing at unprecedented rates. Many neighborhoods are experiencing an explosion of residential opportunities (even though we’re still facing a missing middle housing crisis) and corporate headquarters seem to be flocking downtown.

After the recent unveiling of the new Under Armour offices in Portland, we decided to break down our own experiences in the commercial office design arena. As it turns out, we’ve learned a lot from our experience working for an organic yogurt company and the US General Services Administration.

If you know Nick Mira, it’s no surprise that his biggest takeaways from his work on the offices and shower facilities for Stonyfield Farms near Manchester, New Hampshire are mainly about high performance building systems. Completed in 2006, the building was designed to be very energy efficient. Since Manchester is a more extreme climate when it comes to summer high temperature and winter lows, a super insulated envelope was appropriate. Fast forward to 2019 and the same building envelope used on Stonyfield’s office headquarters then would contribute to a Passive House project in Portland today.

The office building is a three level, open office space that houses their corporate headquarters and it is located directly adjacent to the organic yogurt production facility. One of the unique accomplishments of the project is how it provides heat to its 30,000 square feet of space. Working closely with the mechanical engineering and energy modeling teams, we determined that there is enough waste heat from production process next door to provide the new building with “free” heat. This is one example of the many ways architects and engineers with sustainable design expertise can dig into an organization and cater a design and add a great long term value. The story of Stonyfield Farms is all about preserving the environment, farming and natural, healthy foods, so naturally their headquarters had reflect the same mission.

While similar in sustainable goals, the transformation of the Edith Green - Wendell Wyatt Federal Building in Portland started from a radically different place. As Nick and Tuan Vu recall, the Federal Building project became part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It was designed to save both an inefficient old building and a struggling economy.

Ironically, with all the renovations and sustainable building systems designed into the project, leasable area of the 18 story Federal Building actually grew by 33,000 square feet. That’s 3,000 more than the entire area of the Stonyfield Farms project. This became one story of the federal building renovation which surprises many - not only did it transform from inefficient, underperforming, and an outdated office block to ultra-efficient - but it maximized their top tier office space.

Our collective experiences on these projects exemplify that not only must good commercial office design meet the functional needs of the business and the physical needs of the employees and protect the environmental sensitivities of its location, but it must also amplify the character and story of the organization it’s designed for.

Good commercial office design needs to reflect the DNA of its owner. It should express, even enhance the heart and soul of the company.

We love these kinds of conversations in our office because they get us fired up. We have a renewed passion for imagining great new spaces for our corporate clients.
Whether you want a brand new space or are interested in renovating and maximizing an existing space,schedule a consultation with us. We’re looking forward to helping you create a facility that’s the perfect reflection of you.